If there is one thing I'd recommend people not do is watch channels like "A&E" or "History Channel" for anything resembling reliable information about the Bible or the history of the Church. While these channels have an air of educational respectability about them, the reality is that alot of the things they air (and not just on religion) are intended to grab ratings, and they do this by titilating - and if need be, playing fast and loose with facts.
Yeah, that's a pretty good recommendation. The program was, in fact, on the "History Channel", so I imagine it will be aired again at some point. And there certainly was a lot of melodrama in the type (and timing) of the music they incorporated and in the phraseology of the questions they posed and statements they made.
A lot of people tout the value of "gnostic" texts or the non-canonical Old And New Testament books. Yet I wonder how many people have read them? Let alone read them, and read the actual Bible. Beside doctrinal issues, I think they'd be suprised at the difference in the quality of the two - even the not overtly heretical, but simply apocryphal "New Testament" books are not that impressive - they wreak of obvious anachronisms (which clearly place them outside of the first century A.D.), and spiritually often have little to offer - and sometimes they're down right stupid. For example, some of the apocryphal gospels are clearly the writing of ignorant/ill-catechized converts from paganism, who speak of the Christ Child as being little different than the "child godlings" of the Roman Pantheon, His miracles portrayed as being egotistical tricks, pompous displays of power for their own sake etc. I'd say they're blasphemous, just for being so purile.
In fact, they did mention the Infancy Gospel of Thomas
which seemed to have many of the characteristics you describe particularly in reference to the Child Jesus. It was indeed over-the-top, imho.
The same is true of the gnostic works - these tend to be more collections of sayings, or inchorenent treatise which I guess sound "profound" (though still remain indiscipherable) to the kind of people who like to do their spiritual reading and conversations while passing a joint around. Of course, only certain aspects of the gnostic heresy make the rounds these days - the ultra-puritanical aspects of many gnostic sects being forgotten, having little use for today's "spiritual" but not "religious" people.
They actually did a reasonable job explaining why gnosticism was inconsistent with Christian orthodoxy.
Of course, I could be all wrong in the case of the show you watched - which may be the anomaly I have missed, the example which tests the rule.
No, your assessment is pretty much correct. Any show which gives an inordinate amount of time to John Dominic Crossan is obviously not very discriminating its choice of scholarly "experts". (But, I must say I'm somewhat surprised that he really didn't say any of the more blatantly heretical statements that I'm accustomed to reading from the "Jesus Seminar" types.)