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From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians

By William Cran (Artist)
Our Price $ 16.99  
Retail Value $ 19.99  
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Item Number 87545  
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Item Specifications...

Record Label   Pbs (Direct)
Format   Color / DVD / Full Screen / NTSC
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 5.4" Width: 7.5" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.25 lbs.
Binding  DVD Video
Publisher   PBS
ISBN  1415704112  
EAN  0841887050456  
UPC  841887050456  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
From Jesus to Christ explores the life of Jesus and the movement he started, challenging familiar assumptions and conventional notions about the origins of Christianity. Drawing upon new and sometimes controversial historical evidence and interviews with nation's leading New Testament scholars, this series transports the viewer back two thousand years to the time and place where Jesus once lived and preached. This film traces Jesus' life, focusing on the events that occurred after he died and on his first followers, the men and women whose belief, conviction, and martyrdom created a major movement that transformed the Roman Empire in the space of only three hundred years. Color/B&W. Closed captions.

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More About William Cran

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! ROBERT MacNEIL and WILLIAM CRAN are the coauthors of The Story of English (with Robert McCrum). The coanchor of PBS's The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour until his retirement in 1995, Robert MacNeil is also the author of two volumes of memoir and three novels, including, most recently, Breaking News. He lives in New York City.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Some good points of view, some not.  Feb 8, 2008
This DVD presents mostly the points of views of several bible scholars. Most of the observations about how Christianity initially developed are acceptable, and some are very good; but most of the final commentaries are way off target.
First, Constantine the Great did tell the Christian soldiers that, in a vision, he had been instructed to place a cipher of Christ (not exactly a cross, as they indicate in the DVD) on the shields of his soldiers, in order to win a crucial battle against Maxentius and to become the sole Roman emperor. But all these scholars appear to ignore that, at the same time, he had told the pagan soldiers that, in a visit to a sanctuary of Apollo in France, he also had a vision in which this pagan god had promised victory and long life to him; thus, it is evident that he was more of a shrewd politician than a true convert.
Second, at the end of the DVD, the narrator says that, with the adoption of Christianity by Rome, some saw the fulfillment of the prophesy that "the kingdom of the world would become the kingdom of God," or vice versa, and that now Jesus of Nazareth had become Jesus the Christ. Well, on one hand Saint Paul had started teaching extensively about Christ more than two centuries before; and, on the other hand, Constantine stands for one of the most, if not the most corruptive person in the history of the Church, for now it was the Roman state who pulled many of the strings in the government of the Church, and, in general, authority in the Church became a matter not only of brotherly service, as Jesus taught, but of power and political influence.
Best Televised Documentary on Early Christianity  Jan 6, 2008
As I write this review, this program ("From Jesus to Christ") is nearly ten years old. Yet it is still by far the best televised documentary on the topic of early Christianity. In the place of celebrity or news media narration, this four-hour, four-part film employs some of the most respected scholars of ancient Judaism and Christianity from universities like Harvard and Yale. Visually, the film stays away from campy "reenactments" with bad sets and actors and instead shows archaeological remains from the time of the early Christians and the "talking heads" of the scholars. The information that the scholars convey is basically representative of the debates going on in the field of early Christian studies (the disagreement of the scholars interviewed is thus a strength, not a fault, of this program). One weakness of the program is that it does not include some of the most revisionist history that is emerging from some scholars (for instance, those scholars who tend to think the book of Acts is largely historically unreliable are not represented). But all things considered, if you want an excellent historical introduction to ancient Christianity in video format, "From Jesus to Christianity" is for you.
Academic view on Jesus  Jan 2, 2008
Elaine Pagels is, in my opinion, one of the leading authorities on the subject matter. I first saw this air on TV and have had many discussions on the various gospels as well as those found in Nag Hamadi. I am a seeker and thus am always on the hunt for answers of how and why. This documentary attempts, very well, to answer some of those questions most of us have. This does not attempt to rattle questions of faith and if your faith can be easily rattled I don't suspect you would be watching this documentary anyway.
A fascinating story  Oct 24, 2007
As a student of world religions, I found this four-part series, which I originally watched on television, to be packed full of great information from a wide variety of disciplines. It traces the evolution of Christianity from its days as just another Jewish denomination to its final break into an entirely new faith, along with the evolution of the historical Jesus (admittedly a rather obscure figure, given that apart from Josephus, he isn't mentioned in any extrabiblical sources) into a figure of much greater importance (hence the title of the series). A lot of programs about early Christianity tend to repeat the same old story over and over, but this series goes beyond what we already know to fill in all of the gaps. After all, a lot of times what isn't said in the Bible is more telling than what actually is said. Biblical literalists and those who believe the Bible to be absolutely inerrant probably won't be happy with some of these new reinterpretations, but what good is your faith if it can't stand up to some challenges? One must have a pretty weak faith if it falls apart or feels threatened by new historical information, or modern-day schools of thought that don't adhere to an absolute black and white view of the Bible. Isn't it better to become stronger in your faith by constantly re-examining and scrutinising what you believe in and forming your own independent beliefs?

The series explores such topics as the journal of Perpetua, an early martyr, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the amazing books found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945 (it's criminal and heartbreaking how the mother of the boy who found them threw a couple of them into her kindling fire!), the differences between the four Gospels and how they each reflect their respective eras and locations (Mark starts out in a very Jewish vein and ends on a depressing note, while John is very anti-Jewish and paints the Jesus movement as much stronger and in control at the end), Constantine's conversion, Masada and Shimon Bar Kochba, the destruction of the Second Temple, how Christianity developed in the various places it travelled to in the region, and Jesus's true social class. All in all, the history of Christianity's first few centuries is a fascinating and multi-faceted story. It's a guarantee that everyone can learn something new by watching this.
Something new with every view   Mar 4, 2006
History is constantly changing as new information is brought to light and our environment allows us to see things differently. This series attempts to help us with the next step in understanding the forces evolved in creating the first Christians.
I was very surprised to find so much new information presented in this series. My original intent was to see what Elaine Pagels [author of "The Gnostic Paul" ISBN 1563380390] looks and sounds like. I found a lot more treasure.

Going beyond the institutionalized church of today we find some of the many elements that struggled to create the understanding we have today. I was not totally aware that the different time periods of the gospels and location was so significant. The second revolt of the Jews also known about was not emphasized as well as in this series. The real positive impact of the series is that it sets a foundation for further investigation.
There are several drawbacks in the series, all to do with presentation. First it is a series of sound bites. Some nice scenery and inspirational music surrounds little 15 second question and answer interviews. The people that they interview contradict each other; this would be o.k. if they weren't mixed up together. One person says that there was no middle class just "Have's and have not's." Then a second person comes in and says that the meeting was attended by all the middle class and not represented by the upper class or the lower class farmers. The nature of what the people are thinking at the time is subject to the interpretation of the speaker with no supporting evidence (of course this may be due to the short time on the review.)
In any event this will need repeated reviewing. Hopefully there will be an updated version with later findings.


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