A Polite Bribe (and its Sequel)

Robert Orlando shared with me that he will be releasing a sequel to his movie Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe next year, and asked me to share the information below about it. For those who may not remember, I blogged about Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe twice, and also shared a Q&A with the filmmaker.

Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe:
Interview with the Director

The filmmaker Robert Orlando has been mesmerized by the Apostle Paul since reading the Bible as a youth. But the later portrayals of Paul as greatest convert and church hero gave him reasons to be suspicious. And he is not alone, as a great cloud of more than 50 scholarly witnesses will attest to. Orlando feels that the historical, the real, Paul has yet to be fully exposed. His life should be not only revealed on the printed page—such as his book, Apostle Paul, A Polite Bribe— but in a modern recreation as cinema!

Orlando’s fascination grew with time, and childhood wonder turned into critical investigation and a deeper understanding of the monumental role that Paul played in history and that continues until today. Beyond Paul’s role as an often-quoted saint, the tempestuous flesh and blood Apostle, subject to the political and ethnic torrents of the ancient world, remains a mystery to most people. Some scholars have uncovered facts either unknown or ignored over the centuries, but that knowledge has not reached a wider public. What Orlando does in his film trilogy is bring to vivid life Paul’s story in all its human complexities.

Orlando an independent scholar has read widely on the subjects of early Christianity and of the Greco-Roman world Paul inhabited. Through his studies he became filmmaker turned historical detective, determined to parse what has come to be believed as official dogma and what can be proved as fact. The first film, A Polite Bribe zeroes in on the controversial subject of the collection, delving into the factions between Apostles Paul and James. The second, Apostle Paul: The Final Verdict coming in Spring 2018 picks up where the first film left off taking viewers through the series of Roman court trials, culminating in Paul’s fatal confrontation with Nero. The third, and final, volume Apostle Paul: In His Own Words is the culmination of Orlando’s twenty year journey from faith to film.

His films are on-the-ground reports about the little explored human dynamics, such as the Roman honor code, ethnic strife, and the origins of fierce conflicts that were at the core of Christian history. What was the meaning of the collection and why in the end did James dismiss it? How did the divergent views of ethnicity in the early Church shape Paul’s earthly fate?

Orlando’s quest mirrors what Catholic Paul Johnson has said: “A Christian with faith has nothing to fear from the facts; a Christian historian who draws the line limiting the field of enquiry at any point whatsoever, is admitting the limits of his faith. ”

Orlando’s trilogy is not about ignoring faith but of illuminating the reality of Paul’s life and influence, which has a resonance that has reverberated for two millennia. By being “suspicious,” by researching the works of leading scholars and by providing critical details he offers a deeper understanding of Paul, not as an object of faith only nor mere hagiography, but as a man, He feels we better understand our past, our identities, ourselves.

This interview will tell you more about Robert Orlando’s compelling storyteller’s approach to Paul and why he is convinced that this is a story that must be told!

A Polite Bribe: Director’s Interview from A Polite Bribe on Vimeo.

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  • John MacDonald

    One book that really explores the opposition between the apparent Jewish Christianity of James and the gentile Christianity of Paul is Dr. Barrie Wilson’s book “How Jesus Became Christian”: https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Became-Christian-Barrie-Wilson/dp/0312362781/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509727885&sr=8-1&keywords=barrie+wilson+how+jesus+became+christian&dpID=417hPENNFbL&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

    One of the quibbles I have about Dr. Wilson’s book is that it bases a lot of its arguments on the Gospel of Matthew representing more of what the early Jesus movement was like. The quibble I have is that Matthew’s Gospel shows itself to be a Judaizing of the gentile Gospel of Mark, and so it’s difficult to argue Mathew had sources that trace back to the original Jesus movement (since he was prone to just making stuff up, like the “Jesus as The New Moses” thing), let alone the historical Jesus.

    What I really like in Paul’s message is his emphasis on love:

    – “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another (Romans 12:10).”
    – “The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14).”

    This fits in with what Jesus taught about love, unless Mark read Paul and Mark was just placing Paul’s words on love on Jesus’ lips.

    • John MacDonald

      Along this line of thinking that Paul’s thoughts on “love your neighbor” may have inspired Mark to put these words on Jesus’ lips, I wonder if Paul in Romans might have might have also inspired Jesus’ “love your enemy” saying in the ‘Q’ source (Luke 6:27-36 / Matthew 5:38-48, 7:12)? Paul writes:

      “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them … Repay no one evil for evil… Beloved, never avenge yourselves… To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21).”