Chris Campling finds God
Edward Stourton has a gift for putting youthful flesh on desiccated historical bones. Religion, particularly the Christian one, is something of a Mastermind subject for him, and over the next four weeks he is returning to a path not so much welltrodden as worn away into an arroyo or gulch.
In the Footsteps of Jesus also gives Stourton the chance to indulge in some serious “puff-pant” documentary. You don’t know the genre? Yes you do, it’s when the presenter gives you a sense of where he is by saying: “And here we are (puff), near the top (pant) of” wherever. It works best on radio — David Attenborough has been known to use the same technique on television, but that’s because he really is knackered . . .
. . . . And there are wonderful little insights to save up for the watercooler, such as the one about Jesus choosing to reveal that He was the Son of God in the very spot where a dirty great temple appointing Augustus Caesar to the gig had been built.
And Stourton is not afraid to meander off down sidepaths when the journey looks interesting. Few of us will have lifted up the rock under which reside the Nazi pastors of Germany at the end of the 1920s, for example. Faced with the Jewishness of Jesus, they unearthed the theory that, coming from Galilee, He must have been Aryan because Aryans had invaded Galilee, and so, well, er, there you go, QED, Heil Hitler, etc. Yes, you are right, it’s good stuff. Try not to miss it.