CNN Presents: After Jesus — The First Christians

If you have a chance, I recommend each of you carve out the evening of Dec 20, from 7-9pm, to watch CNN. The show is called After Jesus: The First Christians, and it is an excellent and stimulating presentation of the first four centuries of the Christian faith. CNN kindly sent me an advanced copy and I have watched it in its entirety.
Dec 21, in the morning, I would like to begin a conversation on this blog with those who watched it the evening before. (It will also be replayed Friday Dec 22 at 10pm and 1am; Saturday Dec 23 and Sunday Dec 24 at 8pm and 12am.)

Here are some highlights and an indication of the shape and content of the program:
CNN interviewed Bart Ehrman, Claire Pfann, Amy-Jill Levine, Robin Griffith-Jones, Lawrence Schiffmann, Richard Freund, Marvin Meyer and Gerald O’Collins. Ehrman appears the most.
The visual images are brilliant — as always for CNN — and there are an abundance of graphics, icons, artwork, pictures — all done with lovely color and texture.
The emphasis — to be expected — is diversity in the first four centuries, with a solid segment devoted to the gnostic threat to orthodoxy.
I won’t give away too much of my own view here, but the essential story line is one familiar to those who have engaged the public debate since Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and Bart Ehrman’s numerous publications. In my estimation, the silencing of the voices of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athanasius is telling.

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  • Mike

    You can search on and find the producer’s video quasi-trailer to After Jesus (sorry: no direct link).
    The 3-D animation director’s comment corroborates your understanding; he remarks on the challenge of depicting the NT scenes and later paintings in order to “try to make it credible in some way”. At least he didn’t reference Tacitus: “Under Tiberius, nothing happened.”
    Oh, well…I’m looking forward to the program: thanks for the heads-up.

  • Sean LeRoy

    Has anyone else grown tired of the ‘mainstream’media’s portrayal / characterization of Christian origins? I guess this is to be expected when Ehrman and Meyer are given the kind of voice they are, as ‘experts.’
    It seems like every year the mantra is the same:
    – The Gospel accounts are too stylized to be accurate
    – Paul re-wrote Jesus and invented Christianity
    – Early Christianity supressed the ‘real’ gospel story, etc…
    And speaking of Da Vinci…the real impact of Brown’s novel is not on the screen or in the book, but in the specter that lingers on in ‘experts’ like some of the above.

  • Bill Van Loon

    I’m going to try and catch this program. We can’t actually expect “fair” treatment and good research on the part of CNN and their associates. So what? Let’s listen and watch.
    #2 Sean,
    The DaVinci Code…what specter? Did you ever read Umbero Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum”? Someone said it was the only novel he read that needs an index. I would agree. Eco is a much better writer and storyteller. But if you are looking for a specter, read this one. We were suckered by pop-culture and the DaVinci Code and Brown is laughing all the way to the bank and at us.

  • for those of us w/o cable, do you think there’s a way we can catch it post-debut? (i.e., iTunes? a link at the CNN site?)

  • Jason,
    I don’t know.

  • I am the Founder head of an apologetics (Defense of the Judeo-Christian faith) ministry in the Twin Cities
    If “After Jesus” is anything like the last 16 years of Bible documentaries it will probably make a fine fertilizer for someone’s garden.

  • Hopeton Hague

    I would like to get a transcript of the documentary “after Jesus” the first christians. Please tell me how I can get one.
    Thank you,
    Hopeton Hague.

  • Mike
  • Cheryl Seaberg

    I was searching for After Jesus and happened upon your site. Two questions 1) Why is the Holy Spirit seldom discussed 2) Have you read and what do you think of “The Jews in the Time of Jesus” by Stephen M. Wylen?

  • Cheryl,
    I don’t know why the producers did not discuss the Christian belief in the Holy Spirit.
    No, I’ve not read Wylen’s book.

  • Will a DVD of AFTER JESUS be available, please? Thank you.

  • Norb Lustine

    I to am trying to ascertain how to obtain a dvd of this presentation. I found it to be very informative and far better then other productions related to the subject matter. Please advise if a dvd is going to be made available.

  • Norb Lustine

    With regard to my previous comment, I would appreciate your forwarding follow comments via e-mail. I add this post script since I did not notice the box below the ‘submit’ box.

  • Walter and Norb,
    I rarely give out info on DVD sales unless I support their content. I do not agree with “After Jesus” since they devoted under a half an hour to the 1st century and the comments were purely opinion not necessarily historically sound yet undoubtedly largely slanted to the liberal progressive positions.
    You Wrote: I was searching for After Jesus and happened upon your site. Two questions 1) Why is the Holy Spirit seldom discussed 2) Have you read and what do you think of “The Jews in the Time of Jesus” by Stephen M. Wylen?
    The reason why the HS is not necessarily blantant on my site is because it’s not necessarily an archaeological topic though undoubtedly it’s historical and for today. I have not read Wylens book. I am very careful what I read and it must be academically sound…Wylens book may be.
    Not sure if transcripts are available. Probably not > it may be best to obtain a copy because transcripts don’t allow inflections that can shed light on opinions as opposed to the printed word.
    Rick Dack
    A.D. Communications

  • Rahel Libsekal

    I am so confuse about Christianity, There are many type of Cristianity.
    Which one is the first?
    Please help me with this