From Jesus to Christ
The series "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians" is a historical documentary series that tells the epic story of the rise of Christianity. The four-hour program explores the life of Jesus, his death, and the men and women whose belief, conviction, and martyrdom created the religion we now know as Christianity.
The first part examines how Judaism and Roman rule, Pax Romana or "Roman peace," shaped Jesus' life. Jesus was an ordinary Jewish resident of this time, but new archaeological findings show that he was probably not the humble village peasant often portrayed. Nazareth, where he was born and raised, was a suburb of the major city Sepphoris. As a Jew, Jesus was influenced by the diversity and the tensions characteristic of Judaism at that time.
The second part 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. It began as a sect within Judaism. Along the way, the early Christians began to branch out and to spread their message to non-Jews or gentiles (meaning "nations").
The first part follows the story of the first attempts to write the life of Jesus-the Gospels. They were products of social and religious reconstruction in the period after the war, ranging from roughly 70 to after 100 AD. The program looks at how these stories were passed down before they were written and how the writing of each Gospel reflects the experiences and circumstances of early Christians. They do not all tell the same story of Jesus because each one is responding to a different audience and circumstances.
The second part examins the separation of the Christian Movement from Judaism. In the period between 100 and 300 AD, the movement grew throughout the Roman empire. The Christian Movement also became suspicious in the eyes of the Roman authorities. At times there were heated debates-about beliefs, worship, and even about Jesus himself. At other times, faced by external threats, the Christian Movement pulled together. In the end, what started as a small sect of Judaism became a significant part of the population, enough so that a new Roman emperor, Constantine, decided that they should be part of the official religion of Rome.
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