This is the first part of a 13-episode German documentary mini-series, covering the history of Christianity from its beginnings to the modern-day. Although it’s a German production, the narration is in English. It was filmed at many different holy and historic sites throughout the Holy Land. There are pictures of ruins of all types throughout Jerusalem, which gives a good frame of reference for those of us who haven’t been able to visit this part of the world.
From Jesus to Christ provides a brief overview of the time of Jesus – that during his time, the world didn’t take very much notice of Jesus. He was different in the values he preached from what had been preached prior to this, especially considering the times. It was a time when the high Jewish priests lived quite the high life off the offerings every Jew was expected to pay, and Jesus was critical of this. He felt no one should profit from faith.
It was after his death that the actions of his followers and those he spoke to gained notoriety. They found people willing to listen across the known civilization where people were too far to keep the commandment of attendance at the temple. When Peter and Paul made the decision that non-Jews could also become followers of Christ, it opened up a new faith to the world.
When Paul was brought to Rome to stand before the court and defend himself, the Emperor Nero used the opportunity to have a terrible fire started in the poor sections of the city so that more splendid structures could replace what was burned. The Christians were blamed for that and a witch-hunt of the Christians in Rome began.
People who want to take every word of the Bible literally probably will not like this. Along with a strictly historical perspective, it also points out inconsistencies in the Gospels themselves. From Jesus to Christ also talks about the contradictions with how people have used Jesus’ actions and words to validate diametrically opposed behaviors. Profound piety, missionary zeal, serving love, and fanatical violence have all been based on what people know of Jesus.
Some of the development of the Bible and the stories contained in it are talked about as well. The New Testament was written well after the time of Jesus, based on the stories handed down. The authors of the Gospels obviously copied from each other as some of the texts are copied word-for-word. The book of Revelation, upon which all too much of current popular belief seems to be based, is talked about as the most puzzling book in the Bible. It’s stated here that John was talking about the end of the Roman Empire, not the end of the world as we know it. That’s an interesting fact if so many have misinterpreted it so much. The history of the Dead Sea scrolls is also talked about, as part of the remnants of the Essene sect of the Jewish religion.
From Jesus to Christ debunks some of the myths around Jesus, such as where it’s traditionally believed certain events happened. There’s some debate over whether Jesus could have actually been alive during the time of King Herod, and there’s no historical record anywhere of Herod’s slaughtering of the innocents in fear of “King” Jesus.
There are some historical recreations of events depicted in the Gospels. However, my favorite scenes were just looking at the ruins and various parts of the Holy Land and other historical settings. These are places I’ve never been and likely never will visit, so seeing them, especially with the perspective of the role they placed in the development of the Christian faith really gave me a sense of the history.
As for accuracy, I would guess that depends on which branch of Christianity you subscribe to. The more open the mind about the origins of the faith, and the possibility that the Bible isn’t meant to be taken literally, the more the viewer will get out of it. Within the last year, I had participated in a Bible Study about Saul (Paul) who was converted by a vision from God on the road to Damascus. Although what I studied was more in-depth, what I saw in From Jesus to Christ matched what we learned in that class.
I thought From Jesus to Christ brought up some good ideas to keep in mind about how the early Jewish priests earned their money from the offering tax and wanted to keep that going, which is why they targeted Jesus. It’s really something to think about as I look at the riches some churches hold and still the focus is on more and more money and building bigger and more grandiose buildings. That seems to go the complete opposite of what Jesus preached. No, From Jesus to Christ doesn’t come out and say that. It just highlights this portion of his ministry and lets the viewer extrapolate it as they want.
I was very interested to learn the history of how the Roman Catholic church claims its papacy, with Peter’s declaration of the vision of Jesus saying he will “build my church upon this rock” while he was living in Rome. I had never made that connection before and it filled in some blanks I had in regard to understanding that branch of the Christian faith.
From Jesus to Christ is narrated by Donald Arthur. He does a fine job and I had no trouble understanding what he was talking about, even with some of the more difficult names and cities.
This episode is about 40 minutes long and contains a lot of facts. There’s little to no filler in it. It’s not a terribly exciting documentary, but what I would term fascinating. It strips away a lot of the emotion surrounding Christianity and presents the facts as they are known. Some things cannot be examined in-depth because of the time constraints in the material needed to cover the series overall, but that is why I stated it’s an “overview”. A book list is provided in the Bonus Features for people who want to examine some of the topics further. My own curiosity has been piqued for several years now about the Gospel of Thomas and the Gnostic Gospels which weren’t included in the official Bible and I was happy to see some books I‘ve been trying to get through on this list.
I think From Jesus to Christ is very interesting for those who approach the Christian faith and the Bible with an open mind. All those who are closed-minded on the subject of various interpretations of the bible other than their own will just dismiss this. It’s a shame because I think a very important perspective on Jesus’ teachings is missed by doing that.
” From Jesus to Christ – About the “Shroud of Turin”
” Shackles of Power – About the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
” Separate Ways – About the fragments of St. Matthew’s Gospel undergoing an examination by laser in Britain
” Book List
Next episode in the series (link): 2000 Years of Christianity Episode II: Shackles of Power