You can't get from the New Testament to Auschwitz directly," says Marvin Wilson, author of Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. "But surely the way the church has portrayed Jewish people for the last two millennia provided a fertile background out of which the Holocaust could develop."

Wilson aims to confront stereotypes and bridge the chasm between Jews and Christians. When award-winning Jewish filmmaker Jerry Krell of Auteur Productions approached him about turning the book into a video documentary, the Gordon College professor of biblical studies gladly lent support. Christian, Jewish, and secular sources funded the resulting two-hour production, called Jews and Christians: A Journey of Faith. Krell's video explores the commonalities and differences of the faiths through a gamut of Jewish and Christian voices.

Wilson says he's not surprised that 3,000 Christians and Jews came to the video's October premiere at the Gordon campus on Boston's North Shore. "I do think there is an increasing trend nationally for Christians to want to explore in much greater depth the Jewish roots of Christianity," Wilson said.

In A Journey of Faith, scholars and pastors explain concepts common to (yet distinct in) each religion, such as prayer, the Bible, and the Messiah. The film includes footage of worship services, ceremonies, and rituals in churches, synagogues, and believers' homes.

The documentary also includes laypeople discussing stereotypes and prejudices. "We didn't want to present a bleached-out version of Christianity or Judaism," Wilson said.

The video makes no attempt at evangelism, nor does it address the Messianic Jewish movement. Bob Grinnell, Gordon College's vice president for development, does not fault A Journey of Faith's lack of an evangelistic agenda. "This is a baby step, a launching point for faith," Grinnell said. "We needed exactly what this film is about; through understanding, there can be healing, relationship-building, and trust."

Neil Cooper, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore, says the video meets a need for "a harmonizing influence" and an accurate depiction of both faiths. Cooper's group plans to show the documentary to the Boston-area Jewish community.

"I think the film serves a great purpose [and] will have a very positive impact in terms of Jewish-Christian relations," Cooper said.

Wilson says that while the two faiths can benefit from dialogue, they cannot fully reconcile. "At the end of the day, we are still two different religions," Wilson said.

The video is available through Auteur Productions (866.299.6554).

Related Elsewhere

Read the latest about Jews and Christians: A Journey of Faith at the Gordon College news site.

Visit Gordon's Our Father Abraham project home.

Read an interview with Marvin Wilson discussing the documentary.

Visit the Jewish Federation of the North Shore's homepage.

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