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Case Number 16699: Small Claims Court

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The Bible Unearthed

First Run Features // 2005 // 208 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 28th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson recently unearthed what he thought was an authentic arrowhead, but ended up being a Snickers bar.

The Charge

The making of a religion.

The Case

The Bible Unearthed is based on the book of the same name by authors Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, who also take center-stage in this video adaptation. The thrust of both works is an academic and archaeological exploration of the truths espoused in the Old Testament. The DVD is broken into four 52-minuted segments, each targeting a section of The Bible.

The way things shake-out is what you'd expect from a documentary series: lots of expert interviews (in this case, researchers, academics, and archaeologists); pan and scan zooms of Bible excerpts, historical documents, and artifacts from long ago; sweeping panoramic views of relevant geographical locales; and on-site footage of actual excavations. Episodes include:

• Episode 1: "The Patriarchs"
Focuses on the Pentateuch's big three: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

• Episode 2: "The Exodus"
All about the Israelites and their flight from the Egyptians, as well as a more global look at the role of Egypt in the B.C. world.

• Episode 3: "The Kings"
Joshua, Solomon, Josiah, and David, most of the names that occupied the throne of Israel.

• Episode 4: "The Book"
An overall look into the legitimacy of the Old Testament historical record. Also, a comparison of religions back in the day, worship of Yahweh, Ba'al, etc.

The whole presentation is very slick, expertly staged, and exhaustively researched. The Bible Unearthed is essentially an educational program and certainly one of the finest documentaries I've seen on the subject. However, crammed with substance as it may be, the execution just lacks the flair needed to engage the mind-wanderers. I understand if the producers aren't interested in that demographic, but the breadth of scholarship is so impressive, it's a shame the dryness of the release might not attract the casual viewer. As far as Old Testament video scholarship, The Bible Unearthed is tops.

An attractive video is marred by its fake widescreen. The 2.0 stereo is pretty much narrator-driven. No extras.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Let my people go.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: First Run Features
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 208 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Religious and Spiritual

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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