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FRONTLINE; From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians


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From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians
Program Number

1610 / 1611 / 1612 / 1613

Series Description

Premiered January 1983 Since January 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television's - PBS - flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its television broadcast debut as "the last best hope for broadcast documentaries," FRONTLINE's stature over 23 years is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience. Series release date: 1/1983

Program Description

FRONTLINE explores the life of Jesus and the movement he started, challenging familiar assumptions and conventional notions about the origins of Christianity. Drawing upon new and sometimes controversial historical evidence and interviews with the nation's leading New Testament scholars, the series transports the viewer back two thousand years to the time and place where Jesus once lived and preached. The film traces Jesus' life, focusing on the events that occurred after he died and on his first followers, the men and women whose belief, conviction, and martyrdom created a major movement that transformed the Roman Empire in the space of only three hundred years. PART I: "Pax Romana"--This segment traces the life of Jesus, exploring the message that helped his ministry grow and the events that led to his crucifixion. Born in the reign of Emperor Augustus in the Pax Romana -- the Roman Peace -- Jesus was a subject of the Roman Empire. This first hour looks at how scholars and archaeologists have pieced together a new portrait of where Jesus was born, how he lived and who he was. "A Light to the Nations"--The second hour turns from the life of Jesusto the period that followed his death, examining the rise of Christianity and concluding with the First Revolt -- the bloody and violent siege of Jerusalem and the beginning of a rift between Christianity and Judaism. "A Light to the Nations" explores new evidence suggesting that Jesus' followers, because of their diversity and the differences in their cultures and languages, looked at and interpreted Jesus and his teachings in many different ways. PART II: "Let the Reader Understand"--Part three of "From Jesus to Christ" examines the period after the First Revolt, tracing the development and impact of the Gospels, looking at the increasingly hostile relationship between the Christians and the Jews. The hour concludes with another bloody Jewish war against Rome, the Second Revolt. "Kingdoms in Conflict"--The final hour documents the extraordinary events of the second and third centuries in which Christianity grew from a small Jewish sect to an official religion of the Roman Empire.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Public Affairs
Chicago: “FRONTLINE; From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians,” 03/24/1998, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed January 23, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_EEAD15564C484D2592F56D649B6F1858.
MLA: “FRONTLINE; From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians.” 03/24/1998. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. January 23, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_EEAD15564C484D2592F56D649B6F1858>.
APA: FRONTLINE; From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_EEAD15564C484D2592F56D649B6F1858
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