In the second season of CNN’s Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery, the action begins with “The Pilate Stone” at 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 5. Here, CNN has gathered a group of experts on Scripture, history, and theology, to discuss the historicity of aspects of the Bible and show how they matter to our faith today.
In the premiere for the second season, the audience learns that in 1961, archaeologists discovered a stone revealing the words “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.” Studying various aspects of the history available to them thanks to the historian Josephus, exploring various information collected through archaeology, and investigating the Scriptural narrative, the experts share how different historical facts from the secular world impact the history presented by the Bible. Several experts from the previous season, including the University of Notre Dame’s Candida Moss, Duke University’s Mark Goodacre, and Asbury Seminary’s Ben Witherington III, the show examines the perspective of Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and others to provide a fuller picture of Pilate and his role in the crucifixion of Jesus. Here, there’s something to be learned about what it means to be so close to God in the person of Jesus, and yet fail to actually understand who God is.
Thanks to the narrative shown us through the visual acting out of lives from the story of Jesus, and the expert interviews, the audience will see a healthy blend of action and discourse. Moving quickly through the past and the present locations, and filtering through information to the audience that we can appreciate, the show always seems to be over in a flash. [For the sake of examining the show, I saw episodes 1 (“Pilate Stone”) and episode 5 (“Lazarus”). It’s powerful to see where Pilate would have held court, and what a funeral for a loved one would have looked like in the person of Lazarus; hearing from the experts about the importance of ritual and history just augments the weight of what we see.
Further episodes in the second season include exploration of the childhood Home of Jesus and the tomb of King Herod, as well as an examination of the bones of Peter, and the situation surrounding ‘Doubting’ Thomas. While some of these situations may have never been at the forefront of the audience’s mind, examining them will build up what they know and understand about the Scripture, and what it means to their lives. Powerfully done, and well acted where appropriate, the show is certainly one that individuals or groups should consider watching, with a Bible in hand, to consider the ramifications on our faith.