I have been a reader and collector of National Geographic since childhood. I am able to overlook some of their biases, which lead from time to time to sloppy journalism on the part of the magazine, such as the Gospel of Judas fiasco. Here is another NG piece of sloppy/biased journalism regarding religion: the cover story of the December 2008 issue of National Geographic on Herod the Great, the king over Judea at the time Christ was born.
The article accepts historical information from the first century Jewish historian Josephus, such as Herod killing members of his own family whom he perceived as threats, as well as other cruelties, even though Josephus is the only historical source for some of this information. I have no problem with this. Josephus is considered to be a reliable source, whose writings are consistent with what we know from archeology and other historical sources.
There are other first century writers, on the other hand, whose writings are just as consistent with history and archeology as those of Josephus. I am referring to the writers of the Gospels, whose writings fit into first century Judea every bit as well as those of Josephus. The Gospel of Matthew for example, refers to Herod sending soldiers to kill all the children in the vicinity of Bethlehem who were two years old or younger because he felt threatened by stories of a Messiah having been born there. This is certainly consistent with Herod’s character, yet the author/editors of this article say it probably didn’t happen. Why? Not for sound historical reasons. The only reason NG rejects this source is because it is in the Bible. That is irresponsible historical research.
HT: Stand to Reason
Grace and Peace