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Peter Jennings on Jesus

ABC anchorman Peter Jennings discusses what moved him as he filmed a special on the life of Christ.
2000This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Of the three major networks' news anchors, Peter Jennings of ABC has shown a consistent fascination with religion, producing such comprehensive reports as In the Name of God. Because of his advocacy, ABC is the only network to employ a full-time religion reporter. Jennings, who was raised in Canada as an Anglican, takes his interest in religion reporting to ambitious heights on June 19 with the special Peter Jennings Reporting: The Search for Jesus. Jennings spoke with CT's Douglas LeBlanc about the program.

Tell me about the title, The Search for Jesus.

Jeanmarie Conden, the producer, and I had done a film called Jerusalem Stories, which was a compilation of the three principal views of Jerusalem, gathered largely by me over 30-some visits when I lived in and out of the Middle East. When it was over, Jeanmarie and Ben McCoy, our cameraman, said,

"This was just fabulous. What can we do next?"

We decided that I, as a reporter, could set out and see what I could find about Jesus, the man, as he lived in this part of the world in the first century.

Is the project similar to Albert Schweitzer's work in Quest for the Historic Jesus?

No, it's a journalist's work. "Quest," I think, would put the wrong spin on it because, while you cannot do a project like this without being particularly sensitive to the faith or spiritual dimension of it, I was interested in trying to find out: Who was Jesus as a person? Where did he preach? Where did he go? Who did he see in this short period of his life?

What aspects of Jesus do you find most fascinating?

I am utterly struck how, 300 years after his execution, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Though in the special we don't deal at length with the Resurrection, I'm struck ...

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