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A Startling View of the Life of Jesus; A Lost Portrait of Judas; and a Rare Glimpse Inside Jerusalem's Most Sacred Sites

National Geographic Channel Explores the Contentious, Unexpected and Unorthodox in a Three Night Special Event


Blasphemy?  Hidden Truths?  NGC Digs Beneath Our Conventional Understanding


Russell Howard, National Geographic Channel, 202-912-6652,;
Chris Albert, National Geographic Channel, 202-912-6526,;
Broadcast: Dara Klatt, National Geographic Channel, 202-912-6720,;
Broadcast: Cathy Saypol, CSPR, 212-288-8496,;
Print: The Fratelli Group, 202-822-9491,,;
Radio: Clare Hertel, Clare Hertel Communications, 845-340-0731,;
Photos: Matthew Royse, National Geographic Channel, 202-912-6707,


WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 /Standard Newswire/ -- Religion is a topic rife with passion and tension, diversity, reverence and immense complexity.  It is also rife with controversy.  For thousands of years, across a range of religious backgrounds, bitter arguments have erupted, battles have raged and blood has been shed over unyielding differences of faith and conflicting convictions.  All of which is still fiercely evident today.


For three nights, National Geographic Channel (NGC) journeys beyond conventionally accepted religious beliefs to explore the contentious and unexpected, even the unorthodox.  Explorer: Secret Lives of Jesus, premiering Sunday, December 17, 2006, at 9 p.m. ET/PT; The Gospel of Judas, airing Monday, December 18, 2006, at 9 p.m. ET/PT; and Secrets of Jerusalem’s Holiest Sites, premiering Tuesday, December 19, 2006, at 10 p.m. ET/PT examine the ancient manuscripts, visit the sacred sites and expose viewers to startling new claims by scholars that could challenge the basic precepts of Christianity.  Is it malicious blasphemy?  Is it outrageous?  Or is there some new truth to be learned?


These three specials ask tantalizing questions:  Did Jesus of Nazareth really die on the cross?  Was Judas — long considered Jesus’ betrayer — a hero?  And what is at the root of the age-old controversies among Jews, Muslims and Christians?  Each show draws from a wide variety of sources, including interviews with biblical scholars, religious leaders, archaeologists and authors — all sure to incite debate.


Explorer: Secret Lives of Jesus

Sunday, December 17, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (World Premiere)

More than 1,500 years ago, ancient writings were buried that offered alternative narratives about Jesus of Nazareth.  There were many of these alternative gospels that rendered very different versions of the story and were considered scandalous and deemed heretical.  Rediscovered within the last century, these texts offer more questions than answers.  Secret Lives of Jesus examines these mysterious lost stories of Christ, exploring the fundamental questions surrounding the texts.  Who wrote them and why?  How do they compare to the accepted New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?  And why were the stories forgotten for so long?  Secret Lives of Jesus deconstructs the forces at play during this time of radical religious ideals — and offers a tantalizing glimpse inside the logic behind some of the most bizarre stories ever told about Jesus Christ.


The Gospel of Judas

Monday, December 18, at 9 p.m. ET/PT (Two-Hour Encore Presentation)

This past April, more than 7 million people worldwide tuned in to watch the story of one of the most important finds in biblical archaeology — the Gospel of Judas.  An ancient text that lay hidden for some 1,700 years, the document offers a radically different perspective on a man whom history has painted as the ultimate villain.  The Gospel of Judas, an exclusive, two-hour encore event, traces the incredible story of what happened to the Gospel of Judas since it was found, the recent authentication process and analysis, and key insight gleaned from its laborious translation and interpretation.  The Gospel of Judas presents a lost version of the last days of Jesus, using dramatic recreations to portray and clarify the complex story of intrigue and politics during the earliest days of Christianity and the contents of the gospel itself. 


Secrets of Jerusalem’s Holiest Sites

Tuesday, December 19, at 10 p.m. ET/PT (World Premiere)

Sacred and embattled, Jerusalem has held a uniquely important place in history.  Judaism, Christianity and Islam all regard this city as holy, and a place where believers can feel closer to God.  To each religion, Jerusalem and its sacred sites have varying meanings.  Through extremely rare access, NGC goes inside two sacred places in Jerusalem rarely filmed:  the Dome of the Rock, in Judaism, said to house the actual rock where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac, and in Islamic tradition, said to be where Muhammad ascended to heaven; and the Well of Souls, a natural cave considered by Jews to be a possible location for the Ark of the Covenant, and for Muslims, a place where the souls of the faithful will gather at the end of time.  NGC also goes to the most important sacred site for Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which houses the traditional sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  Jews, Christians and Muslims each stake claims — often competing claims — to a number of other sacred sites in Jerusalem.  Secrets of Jerusalem’s Holiest Sites takes you deep inside this city of mystery and paradox, tracing its parallel histories central to three divergent faiths.


Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Television & Film (NGT&F) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN). Since launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high definition. NGC has carriage with all of the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available to almost 62 million homes. For more information, please visit