Great Story, Never Told
By focusing so much on political motivations, ABC's 'Jesus and Paul' misses rich narrative and cosmic themes of Paul's story.
By Charlotte Allen
The show's relatively short section on Jesus seem to be mostly outtakes from the 2000 special. It is clear in parts that the Jesus segments were taped before the release of Gibson's movie. Jennings' scholars, some of whom could be found arguing on the side of the politically correct, denouncing Gibson for depicting some Jews as complicit in Jesus' death, are seen in "Jesus and Paul" agreeing that Annas, Caiaphas, and their Temple cronies were corrupt, kickback-taking Godfather figures who probably wanted to get rid of the popular prophet Jesus. One scholar points out that crucifixion was "the most horrible form of torturing and killing that the Romans could devise"--suggesting that Gibson's emphasis on the blood and cruelty was not so misplaced after all . . . .Unfortunately (or not?), it is unlikely that I will ever see it so will not be able to comment.
. . . . . Paul comes off in the Jennings special as an ornery, misogynistic loner who stayed on the move because he couldn't get along with anyone and had weird views about sex (like Jesus, Paul condemned fornication, and he did not approve of homosexual acts). Paul's letters and the Acts paint a different picture: of a gregarious missionary who usually traveled with friends--Silas, Barnabas, Titus, Philemon, Luke--and who treasured his strong-willed female followers such as Phoebe, the deaconess of Corinth, Priscilla from Rome, and Lydia, the wealthy dye-merchant who was a patron of one of his churches. None of these vivid New Testament characters makes it into the Jennings special . . . .