On TV tonight: Peter and Paul
Most PBS stations tonight will air Peter and Paul and the Christian Revolution, a two-hour documentary from filmmakers Margaret Koval and Patricia Asté (who earlier teamed together for the PBS documentary The Roman Empire in the First Century).
Weblog hasn't seen the film (a preview copy came through the offices, but there's a war on and we got distracted), so there's no indication of how good it is. Many of the advisers are predictable: there's the Jesus Seminar's John Dominic Crossan and evangelical scholar N.T. (Tom) Wright, who was recently appointed the Bishop of Durham for the Church of England.
In an interview on the PBS promotional website, Koval explains that she tried to make a historical, not religious, documentary. "It is structured around the career of Paul, mostly, and his evolving relationship with fellow Jesus followers such as Peter," she says. "That personal journey is our central storyline. It's full of great conflicts and dilemmas that enable the film to introduce other topics which, inevitably, take a back seat to the story of Peter and Paul."
The documentary will emphasize early Christianity as a Jewish sect. "Most people raised within the modern Judeo-Christian tradition are accustomed to hearing that Paul of Tarsus 'converted' from Judaism to Christianity after a vision on the road to Damascus," Koval says. "Well, if you read his letters carefully—and if you talk to scholars who specialize in Pauline studies—it becomes clear that Paul didn't convert because there was nothing to convert to. Christianity as we understand it today simply did not exist. Paul certainly joined forces with the new sect, but it was very self-consciously a Jewish sect. What Paul did do was become ...1
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