Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Darrell Bock on Jesus and Paul

Christianity Today has posted this review of the ABC Peter Jennings special Jesus and Paul:

Jesus and Paul: Looking at a Journalistic Approach to Christianity's Beginnings
A full review of ABC's Jesus and Paul: The Word and the Witness
By Darrell L. Bock

The review is detailed and on the whole sympathetic, though Bock thinks that some things were overdone and other things were not stressed enough:
Inevitably, such specials produce a kind of cacophony of opinion, where one might end up with the impression that no one can really know what happened, since the scholars do not agree. Many of the facts appear to be a matter of debate and widely diverse opinion. So how much can we really know? Most viewers have little idea that the scholars represent vastly different camps, even as they hear them disagree. The differences reinforce a popular perception that when it comes to religion everyone sees what they want to see. So it is all a matter of individual opinion and choice . . . . .

. . . . . In sum, what do we say about Jesus and Paul special? It was an informative and engaging three hours, an achievement for such a topic, trying to balance the many competing ideas and numerous sub-themes.

The Jesus section was improved from its original effort. There was more balance and nuance, although the issues of personal righteousness and sin are still mostly subsumed under concerns that are more political and global . . . . .

. . . . . The section on Paul has three key foci that are overdrawn: that Paul thought the end was near, that he was an innovator rather than a developer of the faith when it came to the Jewish elements and Gentiles, and that his conflict with James and Peter lasted much of his career. Still there is much here worth seeing and hearing. Paul was a brilliant developer and reflector on the message of Jesus. His influence on the faith has been immense. His defense of Gentile inclusion marked the faith and kept its dynamic moving as he reached out to people unlike himself but for whom he saw hope that Jesus was the answer. One hopes the church never loses sight of that great lesson from the great apostle.

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