The Christ Files

We just finished watching The Christ Files with people from Church.

Historian Dr John Dickson sets out to discover what we can know for certain about the life of one of history’s best known and most influential figures. In a captivating journey across the globe, Dr Dickson examines ancient documents and consults the world’s most respected historians and scholars. Beginning with the Gnostic Gospels, he criss-crosses continents on a search back through time for the historical sources that reveal the real Jesus— a search for The Christ Files. (source:

It’s really good, and I have a high sensitivity towards cheesy Christian TV.

I have to confess that my overriding emotion while watching the programme was jealousy toward John Dickson – travelling all over the world and meeting the great and good of Biblical scholarship.

Emma and I are hoping to take a few copies of the DVD’s with us to South Africa.
If you haven’t watched it, do.
You can get a copy here.

I also discovered when I was watching the credits that my cousin, Dave Sheerman, did the music for the production.
(Hi Dave)

4 thoughts on “The Christ Files

  1. I really enjoyed it and, yes, I too was just a teeny bit jealous. I liked the fact that John did not try and prove too much just dealing with the evidence as it exists.



  2. I agree, he never went beyond what a thoroughly informed, but uncommitted observer would accept. It's a great example of apologetic scholarship and presentation.


  3. [hey, it's a bit annoying, if you forget to put your email in, you have to start your comment all over again! Can you fix it?]

    I haven't seen the program unfortunately, although I'd like to, and I'm sure it's excellent. But I can't help but think it has missed the cultural boat by about 20 years. How many people do you know (excluding Christians, who are always about 20 years behind mainstream culture) who really care about historical evidence? I would say (at a guess) maybe 30% of uni students (science and engineering faculties) and 5% of the wider Australian society.

    I was given a booklet by a Muslim friend showing how the Koran gave specialised knowledge about many scientific things well before its time. Was I tempted to convert, or even check Islam out more? no. Why not? Because I don't care if it is sensible or clever. I care if it feels right to me, and Islam doesn't. (This is from my perspective; I know there's spiritual things happening too, secretly.) Only when I already want to be a Muslim will the historical stuff confirm my faith or cause doubts. It would never convince me in the first place, and I think it's the same with Christianity.

    I'd like to see our resource-rich churches putting more effort into post-modern evangelism. Or shall we just keep doing what we do best, regardless of the changing culture, and leave the relevant stuff to the Buddhists and the fuzzy-gospel emergents?


  4. You might be right in claiming that this doco operates within a fundamentally modernist epistemological framework, and is therefore out of date, but my postmodern pragmatics says, 'who cares? If it works, that's fine.'

    I don't actually think that it does operate in a modernist framework, that's what makes it attractive. Dickson constantly refrains from really making anything out of the evidence. It's an open ended apologetic that really just gives the conclusion, 'you could believe this if you wanted to, there is nothing demonstrably wrong with doing so'.

    Regardless, I don't think that there is such a thing as Smack-Down apologetics. Real apologetics is just the continual multi-front conversation given shape by the interests of the questioner and the subject matter being discussed.
    If (some) people read the Da Vinci Code, they might be interested in the historical development of Christianity. We shouldn't kid ourselves that this is an objective, scholarly interest. It is more of a tabloid interest, there is almost certainly a large dimension of schadenfreude involved. Still, we can take the question at face value and then move the conversation ahead on another front.

    Perhaps what is most important for 'post-modern' evangelism is not the content but the authenticity of presentation, a sense of epistemic humility.

    [re: fixing it – no, not really, you have to put your email in to stop comment spam, and entering a comment requires the page to refresh (actually, that's not strictly true, but it would take some fancy AJAX code to avoid) so the long and short of it is – no 😦
    Once you're registered it should remember your email]


Comments are closed.