[XTalk] The Real Jesus Christ
- I am afraid that this one is just for British viewers, but there is a documentary about
Jesus this coming Saturday (18th December) called "The Real Jesus Christ" on
Channel 4 at 8 p.m. This is the write-up from the Channel 4 web site
An alternative and controversial biography of Jesus Christ, as it would have been told
by those who knew him better than anyone - his closest followers and his family. Two
decades after the death of Jesus the movement he had inspired was in crisis, split
into two bitterly opposed factions. In a final attempt to heal the rift, a summit meeting
was called in Jerusalem. The leading antagonists were the two key figures in 'the
Jesus movement' Paul - later St Paul - and James the brother of Christ.
James is one of the most mysterious figures in history. After the death of his brother
James had become head of the Jesus Movement which became known as the
Jerusalem Church. Together with the disciples James spread the message of Jesus
as a strictly Jewish Messiah. They regarded Jesus as a religious and political leader
whose mission was to liberate the Jewish people from the oppression of the Romans
who at that time were occupying Palestine.
Paul's visionary encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus turned him
from persecutor of the followers of Jesus to one of their leaders. He became an
emissary of the Jerusalem Church. But, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, erudite and
well travelled, Paul was a very different character from the pious James and was
working to his own agenda, one that insisted that Jesus was the Son of God. He
embarked on a mission to reach all corners of the Roman Empire with the message
of the risen Christ. Soon his recruits were no longer expected to observe Jewish
custom. For a period James reluctantly tolerated this in the conversion of non-Jews
but when Paul began to encourage Jews to break the laws of the Torah in pursuit of
'Christianity' James had to act. He called Paul back to Jerusalem for the summit
meeting. The result had far reaching effects on which version of Christ's message
prevailed and on the whole future of the Christian Church.
For the last 2000 years St Paul has been credited with being the mainspring of
Christianity. His interpretation of the message of Jesus moved it far away from
Judaism and his dynamic determination led to the eventual adoption of Christianity
throughout the Roman Empire and its continuing position as one of the most
profound and primary religions of the world. Paul, who never met or heard the
teachings of the earthly Christ, achieved sainthood.
However, the influence of James withered and virtually disappeared. By the second
century A.D. the Jerusalem Church was no more than a small Jewish sect called the
Ebbionites, viewed as heretics by the mainstream Christian Church.
The Real Jesus Christ looks back at one of the major turning points in history to
create the lost biography of Jesus: an alternative version of the life as it would have
been told by his family and disciples. They were the people who knew Jesus best but
they lost the battle for immortality.
The Real Jesus Christ features interviews with leading academics and theologians of
modern biblical thought. Contributers include Professor ROBERT EISENMAN of
California State University, Professor HYAM MACCOBY of Leeds University,
Professor MICHAEL GOULDER of the University of Birmingham, Professor JOHN
DOMINIC CROSSAN of De Paul University in Chicago and Dr MARK GOODACRE of
the University of Birmingham
Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom
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