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Meant to evoke the salaciousness associated with films, TV shows, and books about the desperate lives of housewives, the latest installment of National Geographic Explorer, “Secret Lives of Jesus,” doesn’t disappoint. This exploration of alternative gospels, those not included in the canon, such as the gospels of Thomas and Judas, provides as much murder, mischief, and sex as a Sunday night on Wisteria Lane.

According to one source, the young Christ actually murders a boy for talking back to him. Another claims that Joseph was quite advanced in age by the time he wed Mary and that he was never able to consumate the marriage; a tale, the show’s experts tell us, meant to bolster the concept of the Virgin Birth. Still another tells us that Jesus would use his “powers” to repair Joseph’s shoddy craftsmanship. The episode also touches on the recently popularized Gospel of Mary, which exalts Mary Magdalene as Christ’s favorite disciple, and her relationship with Jesus.

Considered at times both scandalous and heretical, these stories provide a fascinating look at the development of Scripture as we know it, what could be dubbed early PR efforts of the Church. Afterall, who wants to follow a murderous Messiah, a scandalous Savior?

“Explorer: Secret Lives of Jesus” airs tongiht on the National Geographic Channel.

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