This is a funny article that points out something I noticed when I was watching After Jesus while at a bar on Christmas Eve:
One Jack Kilmon has a complaint about the way TV Bible-documentaries portray Paul writing his letters:
“Many of these documentaries, like “After Jesus,” flash back to and anchor themselves on a guy dressed in ancient garb with a reed in his hand, writing on papyrus to represent the Gospels or the Pauline epistles as the narrator discusses some historical event mentioned in those texts between discussions from some of the finest and most brilliant scholars and authors today… Now I can forgive the Medieval artists who depict the evangelists or Paul writing a text of scribbling or jibberish but in every one of these documentaries, not just one but all of them, the director does close-ups of the papyrus and the scribe dipping his reed and writing…what? Jibberish! Scribbles!”
So… the TV documentaries are portraying Paul as though he was writing jibberish? This might be just too obvious to even say, but: at least they are getting something right!
For complete historical accuracy, of course, they then need to portray hordes of scholars across the span of the subsequent two millennia asserting that they have made perfect sense of Paul’s jibberish.
I admit I was having a drink at the time, but at one point I looked up at the TV screen and noticed “Paul” writing what looked like random strings of Greek letters. Upsilon… psi… theta… some unknown letter… and then I thought “Did they even write in lower case back then? I don’t think so…”. I guess it would have taken away from the “authenticity” if they had Paul writing in all caps like an internet flame warrior (Gal 6:11).