Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"From Jesus to Christ"--worth checking out

On late Sunday afternoon, there's often not much on television, at least not much for us non-sports folks. As we flipped through the channels, we finally decided, as we so often do, on the PBS station. They were showing an old Frontline episode, From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians. We only saw the first 2 hours, the only 2 broadcast locally. On the website, it looks like there are 4 hours, and that we can watch them all here.

It's a great show, using some of the latest archaeological finds to talk about the historical Jesus and the time period in which he lived. It also talked about the earliest Christians, and how they understood what they were doing. It's a typical PBS documentary, with lots of commentary from university professors, and lots of still shots of the locations being discussed.

I come out of an academic background, and Luther was a college professor, so I'm not threatened by this approach to Jesus, even when it differs wildly from my Sunday School teachers' approaches to the subject. I've done a lot of this reading on my own, so I'm always surprised at the misconceptions that people have of the subject--even people who have been to seminary. For example, I'm still amazed that people don't understand that Jesus was killed by the Romans and killed in the way reserved for people seen as a threat to the state.

Here's a fun fact that I got from this show: during the time period of Jesus, and for about 30 years after his death, humans were more mobile than they would be again until the invention of the steam engine. I've always been amazed at the travelling patterns of those first evangelists, but apparently, lots of people were on the road; the fact that the evangelists travelled far and wide would not have been unusual.

So, during this week when so much of the world ponders what it means to be Jewish (happy Passover!) and what it means to be Christian (happy Easter!), why not take some time for some scholarly insight?

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