Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Empires - Peter Paul and the Christian Revolution|
Actor: Salome Jens
Directors: Michael Chin, Douglas Cheek, Margaret Koval
Genres: Television, Documentary
Early Christianity faced powerful obstacles. The might of the Roman Empire and the power-politics of ancient Jerusalem laid a heavy burden on those who believed Jesus was the Messiah. But this new faith would not die. In a... more »
Historical records ignored in favor of pet theories
Young Foosha | Eastpointe, MI | 03/14/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I never cease wondering at the blatantly mishandling the PBS Empires series gives to Biblical topics. It was bad enough when The Kingdom of David ignored the possibility of any historical substance in the Bible's first 5 books (Pentateuch), and instead gave some theologian's pet theory that scribes in Babylon had WRITTEN (not compiled) the Old Testament narrative.Now writer and producer Margaret Koval steps up to bat by selectively throwing out the historical record of the New Testament (which is arguably one of the most accurate historical records from antiquity, as ably argued in the book, "More Than A Carpenter"), and introduces some logical yet completely invented theories as to the rise and spread of Christianity by Jesus' early followers, most notably Peter and Paul. Mrs. Koval ignores various contents of Paul's own letters which would completely discredit some of the ideas presented in this program.For example, the program's theme is the supposed transition of Christianity by Peter and Paul from an immediate expectation of God's kingdom on earth to a delayed expectation that rose into the 1970-yr-old Christianity that remains today. Let's compare some of the program's assertions point by point to the New Testament historical narrative which was obviously ignored:COMPARISON #1: PBS' PETER AND PAUL: States that Christianity started spreading because Jesus' followers saw a vision of him while fishing, and through their own logic and initiative decided that they must prepare for God's kingdom to literally come. And so they initiated the act of telling others about Jesus' resurrection and the imminent establishment of God's kingdom on earth.BIBLICAL HISTORICAL NARRATIVE: States that Christianity's spread was a direct result of Jesus' commands to do so. Matthew 28:19-20 and John 21:15-16 recount how Jesus gave his followers an explicit command to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to observe everything that Jesus had commanded, and how after his resurrection, Jesus commanded Peter to take care of his followers ("feed my sheep"). Jesus also stated (as recorded in Acts 1) that hiw followers would be his witnesses not only to the Jews, but also to Samaritans and to the ends of the earth. Although Jesus' followers struggled with the transition of taking Jesus' message to the nations, Jesus' command is still clear. COMPARISON #2:PBS' PETER AND PAUL: States that Peter was not evangelistic-minded at first, and that the number of believers when Stephen was murdered in Jerusalem only numbered a few hundred.BIBLICAL HISTORICAL NARRATIVE: States in Acts 1:1-9; 2:1-4,41 that Jesus told his followers to wait in Jerusalem until they were filled with the Spirit (so they would have power to be Jesus' witnesses). States that this occurred on the day of Pentecost (or 1 week after Jesus was taken into heaven). According to the Biblical account, on this day (the first day of spiritual "open season"), Koval's non-evangelistic Peter gave a sermon that won over 3000 converts. This was well before Stephen's murder, when Koval claims the # of converts was only a couple hundred.COMPARISON #3:PBS' PETER AND PAUL: Repeatedly states that Jesus' immediate followers and the early church were expecting the imminent coming of the literal rule of God on earth (the "apocalypse", as they termed it).BIBLICAL HISTORICAL NARRATIVE: In Acts 1:6-8, Jesus' followers asked the resurrected Jesus about this specifically. Jesus responded that it was not for them to know the times or seasons that God had set, and that in the meantime they would become witnesses to the ends of the earth (kinda difficult to get that in if God's kingdom is being set up a week from Friday). Furthermore, Paul clearly was NOT expecting the imminent return of Jesus to set up his kingdom , as seen in 2 Thessalonians 2. Here, Paul says that Jesus won't return to earth until two things happen: First, the great apostacy (falling away from truth) must occur, and second, the man of lawlessness or son of perdition (a.k.a. the "antichrist) must be revealed. Paul flat out states that until you see these two recognizable signs, Jesus hasn't returned. And the New Testament narrative is clear that Jesus will set up his kingdom on earth, not during an initial return by Jesus to "catch away" his followers, but during a second return later on.CONCLUSION:I could continue with more examples, but I hope from these few that you see how the show's assumptions and theories-presented-as-fact rob it of historical value. What a blatant mockery of the historical narrative to present a story that ignores the very statements of the historical narrative on which the story is based! Though many of the program's statements are in line with, and derived from, the Biblical historical narrative, these are so completely interwoven with "Disneyland Imagineering" as to make the program a laughing stock among serious Biblical historians."
Christianity's Growing Pains
J. S. Kaminski | Aberdeen, NJ United States | 02/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Peter and Paul" tells the story of Christianity from roughly 30 AD to 70 AD; it is basically a summation of the books of "Acts" from the New Testament. I say summation because only certain events are highlighted. "Acts" has 28 chapters and it would take more than two hours to relate the story in detail.
The show is mostly made up of reanactments of events, with voice-overs quoting either an ancient historian, like Josephus, or a biblical passage. Statements from contemporary historians and theologians are also woven into the program.
The story follows the struggles of the early "Jesus community" in Jerusalem, and then the spreading of the "good news" beyond Jerusalem, mostly by Paul. The hardships and challenges they faced are detailed here, and one wonders how the church was able to survive, and indeed thrive, under such harsh conditions. It is a remarkable story, whether you believe, or not.
Lastly, I must state that this is intended to be a program of history, not faith. Some reviewers were upset that the program did not fit with his/her understanding of the events, and that's fine. But it cannot be denied that multiple understandings exist - otherwise, how else can you explain so many different branches of Christianity?
Looking through the New Testament, one can find different versions of the same story. After Jesus' death, for example, some accounts state the apostles remain in Jerusalem (Luke), while others state they returned to Galilee (Matthew, John). Elsewhere, Paul claims the "appointed time has grown very short" (1 Corinthians), but in 2 Thessalonians he states that Jesus' coming is not imminent.
It is important to remember that the New Testament was written by several people over many years, and not all of the stories/accounts/versions/ideas are going to match. The producers of this program chose one version of certain accounts and stayed with it. Sometimes it might agree with your understanding, sometimes not. Keeping this in mind will most likely enhance your enjoyment of the program. And it might even help you to see things in a new light!
If You Want to Gather Information
Mary Miner | Boxford, MA United States | 10/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I personally find the Christian story fascinating and "love to hear the story because I know it's true." While every source has their own take on it, and every author their own theory, those who believe continue to seek knowledge regarding how Jesus has continued to influence people through the ages. This DVD creates a visually interesting tale about Peter, the Rock, one who actually shared Jesus' life journey, death, and resurrection and Paul a man who shortly after Jesus' death (and resurrection) was profoundly affected by a conversion experience leading to belief in Jesus and the mission he then undertook to carry the good news to the gentile world. This DVD points out the differences in opinion the apostles held (of which Peter was one) with what Paul believed. And, Paul didn't merely think or feel he had the authority to carry the message to "the Jew and the Gentile alike"; he had experienced with his whole being a calling to bring all people to the knowledge of Jesus. This take on the new faith was not compatible with the faith traditions already being practised by the disciples and not all the apostles supported Paul's enthusiasm. The idea continues to be incompatible for some, and this shows us the source."
Outstanding Analysis of Early Church Growth
Don Hoyt | Atlanta, GA USA | 08/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first watched this program a year or two ago, and although I thought it was good, I didn't think it was up to the level of an earlier PBS series on early Christianity, From Jesus to Christ. Then, in July 2007, in preparation for teaching some Sunday school classes on the book of Acts, I watched it again. In fact, I watched it several times, and went to the companion web site[..], which has a wealth of interesting material related to the people, events, and geography of the first-century church.
I now realize that this is an extraordinarily good and very carefully crafted explanation of the earliest growth of the church. It may not always be right (the series is at pains to point out that the historical record is very thin and often contradictory), but it is a coherent, consistent, and convincing account of how and why Christianity took root in Palestine and then began to spread across the Roman Empire. I had a good knowledge of the gospels, and a fair understanding of church development from the time of Constantine forward, but I never really understood the period from Jesus' death to the acceptance of Christianity in the 4th century. Luke's account in Acts and Paul's accounts in his letters are not consistent, and neither one provides the historical perspective that can only come with the passage of time. The gospels, of course, were written in the second half of the century, and they reflect where the Christian community was then, rather than how it got there. (Even though intuitively they would seem to predate the emergence of the church, in actuality they came afterwards and probably were written as core narratives for existing groups of believers.)
Although there is not a lot of sizzle or razzle-dazzle in the production, everything is meticulously thought out. If you are interested in really coming to a better understanding of Peter and Paul and the early church, rather than just looking for something entertaining on a religous theme, I don't think you can find anything more serious or historically thorough, or anything on video that will do a better job of deepening your understanding and appreciation of these apostles and their lives.