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For several years now ABC News has been committed to prime time coverage of religious topics, including the early history of the Christian faith. The attempt has been to cover these topics like "a news story," often a point counterpoint format in which a wide variety of opinions about the topic are on display, a kind of cultural kaleidoscope of scholarly opinion and spiritually driven reflection about this faith's roots. These specials are intended by their producers to inform and put on display the discussion and debate that swirl around key figures of the faith.

Now comes a mega-special, a three-hour extravaganza, tracing how an early, tiny Jewish movement became a world religion by looking at its two most central figures, Jesus and Paul, The Word and Witness. Does this special inform as to the facts surrounding these two figures? Does it put on display the discussion that rotates around these two key figures of history? We proceed in its successive blocks, like the special, working in the twelve units or so it gives us in those three hours.

Prime time engagement However, before we begin, there is one observation that must be made. The fact that network television would give three hours to such a topic shows how our times have changed. No longer is religion, and the discussion of faiths like Christianity, a "private" affair. Gone are the days of the 1960s when the claim was that God was dead. Far from it, now he has become a public figure, being given the same kind of celebrity treatment of other, more modern, cultural icons. Now ideas about the faith and its origins are being digitized and disseminated for mass public consumption, meals of content for millions of watchers, the public square going really public on religion. ...

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