Peter and Paul and the Christian Revolution
Early Christianity faced powerful obstacles. The might of the Roman Empire and the power politics of ancient Jerusalem laid a heavy burden on those who believed Jesus was "the Messiah." But this new faith would not die. In a brief span of time, the fledgling religion would transcend its origins in the provinces of Rome and absorb the capital of the Empire itself. With the words of Paul and other ancient writer, interviews with contemporary scholars, and dramatic reenactments, this 2-part program explores how two men weathered crippling disagreements and political persecution to lead one of history's most astonishing religious movements.
The Rock and the River (#101Z) Duration: 56:27 STEREO TVPG
With their Messiah executed, their dreams crushed and their cause deemed subversive by the strongest empire the world had ever seen, Jesus's followers faced a bleak future. Their movement seemed destined for extinction. Incredibly, though, Jesus's survivors turned defeat to victory; devastation to jubilation. By one account, it happened on the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Simon Peter and others envisioned the risen Jesus. Re-infused with hope and determination, Peter became an indomitable figure who would unite his group into a tight community of ardent believers. Dark days were coming however -- days of persecution, imprisonment and dispersal. And when they arrived, Peter found support from an unexpected source. His name was Paul. Paul had a startling revelation that led him to embrace Peter's faith as his own. It was a turning point in history. For once inspired, Paul turned his formidable talents to the task of spreading his new cause around the Roman Empire. Paul was educated, passionate and determined. But he was also dogmatic. And soon, he would be at the center of the most divisive conflict yet to face the young Jesus movement.
The Empire and the Kingdom (#102Z) Duration: 55:55 STEREO TVPG
Spread outside Judea by missionaries likePeter and Paul, the Jesus movement caught on quickly among Jews and non-Jews around the Roman Empire. With success, however, came challenges: challenges from hostile locals, imperial forces and from conflicting ideas within the movement itself. Paul -- adamant that there was no time for conversions -- fell into open and angry confrontation with some of the oldest Jesus followers. Peter, it seems, tried to mediate the conflict. "The Rock" became a stepping stone between the camps and, for a crucial period, helped keep the movement together. But the center could not hold. Paul struck out on his own, planting churches in his image around the Mediterranean and writing letters that would become central to all later Christian theology. Finally, in 70 AD, disaster struck the headquarters of the Jesus followers. After decades of rising tension, Judea erupted in revolt against Rome. War had been raging for four years. And when Rome finally established control, it destroyed much of Jerusalem; it torched the sacred Temple and enslaved the population. The scorched ground of Judea could no longer nurture a Jewish Jesus movement. And in the end, it was Paul's communities that would grow and change into the churches we know today.