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Professor featured in Discovery Channel documentary

Byron McCane
2009-03-23

World premiere of ‘Who Was Jesus?’ series airs Sunday, April 5, 8-11 p.m.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Dr. Byron R. McCane, Albert C. Outler Professor of Religion and chair of the department of religion at Wofford College, will appear in the Discovery Channel’s upcoming three-part documentary “Who Was Jesus?” to premiere on Palm Sunday, April 5, from 8 to 11 p.m.

In the program, an archaeologist, a theologian and an historian examine the evidence and dig deeper into the life of Jesus and the times in which he lived. The series is “the story of what it was like to be Jesus: to be born into tyranny, to be executed for preaching harmony and forgiveness, and what it was like for his disciples to risk death by carrying the message of salvation,” according to the Discovery Channel.

“My role in the program is the archaeologist, and I travel to all the important sites in Israel related to Jesus, talking with other experts, and the audience, along the way,” he says. “Meanwhile, the theologian and the historian are doing the same thing. From time to time, we come together in various places to talk with each other.”

It was while he was on a dig in Israel – which included four Wofford students – last summer that he was interviewed for the series.

For McCane, who in 2008 received the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences, archaeological field work and other scholarly research invigorate his teaching. “Archaeology gives us a glimpse into what was ordinary and typical in the ancient world,” he says. “It complements biblical studies by showing us what the biblical writers took for granted and thus didn’t bother to say. We don’t dig to prove or disprove the Bible; we dig to enrich our understanding of the world of the Bible.”

McCane has excavated in Israel at Zippori, Khirbet Qana, Yotvata, and in the Forum Romanum in Rome. His book “Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus” (Trinity Press International, 2003) positioned him as a leading authority on early Jewish and Christian burial customs. He has also appeared on the National Geographic Channel and the History Channel.

“Who Was Jesus?” will air in three consecutive one-hour segments covering “Childhood,” “The Mission” and “Final Days.”