University of Iowa scholar on History Channel series

First documentary in which professor talks Biblical secrets to air Nov. 13

What was lost when the Bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English? What early religious texts didn’t make it into today’s Bible, and why? What does the Bible really say about sex?

A University of Iowa professor will try to help try answer those and other questions in a History Channel documentary series that starts airing this week.

“Bible Secrets Revealed” features UI assistant professor of classics and religious studies Robert Cargill. He appears on screen throughout the six-episode documentary and was a consulting producer for the project.

“There are a lot of people making a lot of uniformed, sensational claims about religion, so we thought it was about time we do a responsible show about what scholars say about the Bible,” he said. “I like taking difficult issues about the Bible and making them accessible to the public.”

Part of the documentary was shot in Tel Azekah in Israel, where Cargill and UI students were participating in an excavation of a site on the border of the Biblical kingdoms of Judah and the Philistines. Another member of the religious studies faculty, Jordan Smith, is also featured in the documentary.

Cargill, 40, has appeared in several other History Channel projects and hosted a National Geographic show, “Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in 210.

He said participating in documentaries, along with other tactics such as blogging and using social media, are important for scholars who want to share their knowledge outside university walls.

“There’s always been a criticism of scholars that they sit in their ivory towers and only talk to each other but it never makes its way down to the public,” he said. “The University of Iowa brought me here in part to reinvigorate the public discussion on matters of faith. Documentaries are one way to do that.”The first episode, “Lost in Translation,” will air Nov. 13 on the History Channel at 9 p.m. Cargill said episode “The Promised Land” will air Nov. 18 and “The Forbidden Scriptures” will air Nov. 25. Three more episodes are scheduled for Dec. 2, Dec. 16 and Dec. 23.

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