A new CNN original series investigating the evidence behind the story of Jesus of Nazareth has been rated the channel’s #1 original series since its release earlier this month. "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery" aired its second episode Sunday.
The six-part series offers exciting insight into archaeological artifacts supporting the gospel story, as well as telling the story of the life of Jesus through relics such as the Shroud of Turin, the burial box of Jesus’ brother James, and relics venerated as the True Cross.
And audiences are loving it.
“We wanted to go in and look at sensational archaeological finds and debunk the debunkers -- to talk about what is true and what is not true,” said David Gibson, who co-authored the book "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery" on which the series is based.
An award-winning journalist and filmmaker, Gibson partnered with journalist Michael McKinley to demystify famous pieces of evidence related to the gospel story. The book and series examines whether or not the featured artifacts are real, and uses them as windows to the story of Jesus’ passion.
“It’s a show that aims for a wide audience. It’s for believers who want to widen their faith as well as unbelievers. It’s a rare patch of common ground,” Gibson told Townhall. “So many who are critics like to use sensational archaeological discoveries to say that the Bible isn’t what you say it is -- to disprove it.”
Without an agenda of proving any faith, the series presents archaeological evidence, expert testimony, and historical context for the story told in the Bible. Christian or not, religious or not, the series aims to inform viewers about the world’s most widely practiced religion. And that alone may drive cultural change for the better.
"I think it can promote a greater respect and adherence to religion,” Gibson said. “If faith can be seen as reasonable, that’s good for both religion and the culture. We have a problem of fundamentalism: believers always want to prove the faith, but faith by its nature isn’t going to be proved or disproved. We need to recover the idea that religion is a combination of faith and reason.”
This week’s episode will feature the Gospel of Judas, discovered in an Egyptian burial cave. "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery," airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.