Bible's Buried Secrets

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Hebrew Scholar Francesca Stavrakopoulou examines how recent archaeological discoveries are changing the way stories from The Bible are interpreted and how these, in turn, are forcing a re-assessment of the understanding of the legacy of Judaism, Christianity and Islam both in the Middle East and in the West. In a three-part series, Francesca travels to major archaeological digs throughout the Middle East to investigate the origins of the story of the Garden of Eden, the emergence of the worship of one God and the historical context of King David and his wondrous kingdom. The Bible's Buried Secrets aims to place some of its most iconic stories into a new historical context.

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Episode Description

1

Did King David's Empire Exist?

Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou goes on the trail of the Biblical King David and his fabled empire. A national hero and icon for the Jewish people, and a divine king for Christians, David is best known as the boy-warrior who defeated the Philistine giant Goliath. As king, he united the tribes of Israel. But did he really rule over a vast Israelite kingdom? Did he even exist? Stavrakopoulou visits key archaeological excavations where ground-breaking finds are being unearthed, and examines evidence for and against the Biblical account of King David. She explores the former land of the Philistines, home of the giant Goliath, and ruins in the north of Israel and in old Jerusalem itself purporting to be remains of David's empire.

2

Did God Have a Wife?

Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou asks whether the ancient Israelites believed in one God as the Bible claims. She puts the Bible text under the microscope, examining what the original Hebrew said, and explores archaeological sites in Syria and the Sinai which are shedding new light on the beliefs of the people of the Bible. Was the God of Abraham unique? Were the ancient Israelites polytheists? And is it all possible that God had another half?

3

The Real Garden of Eden

Can we find the Garden of Eden? Bible scholar Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou thinks so. In the final episode of her series re-examining conventional readings of the Bible, she argues that the Garden of Eden has nothing to do with the origins of humanity, but is rather a story concealing dramatic events about a particular figure in a particular place, two and half thousand years ago. Marshalling compelling evidence from archaeology, Islam and the Bible text itself, she identifies and visits the exact site of Eden. It's a revolutionary theory which challenges some of the most cherished preconceptions about Eden in both Christianity and western culture.