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Peter Jennings Reporting:

Jesus and Paul, the Word and the Witness

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Still Searching for Jesus
The first hour of the 3-hour show was devoted to a recap of Jenning's earlier special, The Search for Jesus Dallas Theological Seminary New Testament professor Darrell Bock, who critiqued the 2000 program, talked to Jennings about this new project. Asked what he learned by going through Jesus' story a second time, Jennings answered

We did not go back through the whole story. We simply wanted to make clear what the context of Paul's story was. Paul is more interesting, and there is more sense of continuity if Jesus is set as the backdrop for him. This did allow us to use both old and new material on Jesus.
Source: Peter Jennings Goes Back to the Bible Interview by Dallas Theological Seminary New Testament professor Darrell Bock, Christianity Today, posted Apr. 4, 2004

Jennings also said:

Paul has a 21st century resonance. He discusses homosexuality, women, sexuality, anti-Semitism, treats issues of social behavior, and raises the issue of tolerance. He is Jewish, but ministered to Gentiles. He wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament. He gives us real insight into a little first century movement that was so tiny and yet led into what became Christianity.

Paul gives us insight into the Christian movement of the first century because scholars think that his letters are probably the earliest documents of the Christian movement. Reading his letters is going back to our roots.

He was talented, passionate, towering, powerful, complicated, fascinating figure, and I don't think people know everything about him. He had a great historical impact. It is a news story to tell the amazing story of Paul's role in the growth of that tiny community into a worldwide movement.
Source: Peter Jennings Goes Back to the Bible Interview by Dallas Theological Seminary New Testament professor Darrell Bock, Christianity Today, posted Apr. 4, 2004

Several commentators have said that Jennings has done a more balanced job with the current show than he did with The Search for Jesus. However, there also is a good amount of critique along these line:

This documentary presents us with many pictures of Jesus. Underlying the entire program is the subtle assumption that the Jesus of history was nothing more than a country Jew who dreamed of doing something great for his country, perhaps even as great as inspiring a revolt against the Romans, but who ended his life as an ignoble criminal, crucified by the Romans, convicted by the Jewish leadership, and abandoned by his followers. Oh, and on his last night alive, consumed by the instinct of self-preservation, he was shocked and appalled and nearly driven to a complete breakdown through fear. No wonder that late in the program Jennings muses that it is unbelievable that this little manís life would produce a religion that would overcome the whole Roman Empire in scarcely 300 years.

This background picture of Jesus is joined by the Jesuses of the commentators, the experts Jennings interviews and carefully edits. Although most of the experts are very liberal in their theology (John Dominic Crossan isnít even convinced Jesus was buried, much less that he rose from the dead), a few are conservative (notably Paul L. Maier, who affirms the accuracy of the gospels), but none are allowed by Jennings to speak fully and in context from their own paradigms. This makes it difficult to see the sharp distinctions that actually exist among their views, but it makes it easier for Jennings to present the changing Jesus without our realizing how changeable he has been presented.

To parade other pictures of Jesus before us, Jennings assembled a large cast of experts to share their views with us. Jennings does not identify for us whether any of these experts have any particular faith or belief in Jesus or Christianity. He does not tell us which ones are considered conservative and which liberal. He does not tell us much about their credentials or what has caused him to consider them experts. And by judicious and close cropping of their interviews, he manages to weave their comments so that everyone sounds reasonable and amiable, even though among them they present widely divergent views of Jesus.

Robert M. Bowman, Jr. has reviewed the ABC documentary, "noting what Jennings and his scholars got right as well as what they got wrong."

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• Subject: Peter Jennings Reporting: Jesus and Paul, the Word and the Witness
• First posted: Jan. 30, 2004
• Editor: Anton Hein
• Copyright: Apologetics Index

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Home / A-Z Index / "J" / Jesus and Paul, the Word and the Witness

Paul: follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?
Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?

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