PBS FRONTLINE — From Jesus to Christ : The First Christians (Part 1)
Explore the life of Jesus and the movement he started, by challenging familiar assumptions and conventional notions about Christianity's origins. FRONTLINE draws upon controversial new historical evidence and interviews with New Testament scholars to trace Jesus' life. The film focuses on events after his death and on his first followers, men and women whose beliefs, conviction, and martyrdom transformed the Roman Empire in just 300 years.
HOUR ONE examines how Judaism and the Roman empire shaped Jesus' life. Jesus was an ordinary Jewish resident of his time, but new archaeological findings show that Jesus was probably not the humble village peasant often portrayed. Nazareth, where he grew up, was about four miles from the cosmopolitan urban center of Sepphoris, one of the Roman provincial cities.
While Rome defined one dimension of Jesus' world, the other was symbolized by the great Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus was born, lived, and died a Jew, and he was influenced by the diversity and tensions of Judaism at that time.
Jesus was most likely arrested and executed by Roman authorities whose principal concern was to keep peace in the empire Rome had little tolerance for those it judged disruptive of the Pax Romana, (Roman peace) punishing them in many ways, including crucifixion.
The death of Jesus was a Roman act; there was little if any notice taken by Jewish people. Jesus was another victim of the Pax Romana.
HOUR TWO explores the period after the crucifixion of Jesus and traces the beginnings of the Jesus Movement, in those early years before it was called Christianity:
The Jesus Movement began as a sect within Judaism. Along the way, the early Christians branched out and spread their message to non-Jews or gentiles (meaning "nations"). The Apostle Paul had a profound impact on this spread; around 50 C.E., Paul travelled away from the traditional centers of the Jesus Movement and began to found new churches in Greco-Roman cities. Paul's letters to these fledgling congregations mark the first writings of the New Testament.
Meanwhile, expectations about the coming of the Kingdom of God and spiraling tensions between Jews and Rome would culminate in a catastrophic Jewish revolt against Rome from 66-70 C.E., ending in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple--the center of Jewish spiritual life. The traumatic failure of this revolt would dramatically affect the future for Jews and Christians.
Original Air Date: April 6, 1998
Tagged: From Jesus to Christ The First Christians PBS FRONTLINE documentary Jesus Christ Christianity Christians Gospels Kingdom of God Holy Spirit religion historical Jesus Movement Judaism Jews Jewish revolt Essenes history HeroOfChristArchives