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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The first Christians

PBS videos tell the story of Jesus

One of the best things about public television is that it rarely shows a program just once. Another is that it is making more of its shows available for videotape purchase. Case in point:

From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians, produced by WGBH, Boston.

First airing last spring, this excellent four-part series goes into great detail and depth telling the story of Jesus' life and of the diverse movements that grew up around his message.

It highlights how much a part of Judaism the early Jesus followers remained. It also explains the most recent scholarly theories, including that Jesus was likely a much more sophisticated and urban figure than has been assumed. (See related story, How Jesus Won the West.)

Shows that feature several interviews with scholars can be talky and boring-but not this one. The producers have done a masterful job of weaving truly exciting interviews together with effective visuals and compelling background music. Probing questions prompted the scholars to tell wonderful stories rather than simply recite facts.

Those interviewed include such well-known names as Elaine Pagels, Helmut Koester, John Dominic Crossin, Holland Hendrix and Wayne Meeks.

Many PBS affiliates nationwide will broadcast this series again on Dec. 15 and 22. Check with your local station to see if it will and to learn exact times.

For more information see www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/.

The tapes would also make a fine purchase for a synodical or congregational library. Order from PBS at (800) 344-3337. Educational (congregational/institutional) price: $99.95, plus $9.25 shipping and handling for four hourlong tapes; home or individual use is $59.98, plus $7.25 for shipping and handling.


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