Last November at SBL in Boston, I had the privilege of sitting down with filmmaker Rob Orlando twice. One of those meetings was planned, and saw me in front of a green screen wearing makeup (more about that later and on future occasions). The other was serendipitous but provided a chance to chat less formally over breakfast, since it turned out that we were both staying at the same hotel – the hotel in which he was also filming interviews with scholars about the apostle Paul for his next movie, Apostle Paul: The Final Verdict. That will be a sequel to his earlier movie Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe, which I have blogged about more than once, as it first introduced me to Rob, and actually brought him to Indianapolis for a screening of his movie at Butler University, followed by a Q&A with him as filmmaker. Rob also kindly made a guest appearance in my class about Paul and the early church on that occasion as well.
While the announcement that Mel Gibson is planning a sequel to Passion of the Christ was met with understandable jokes (where do you go from where the original ended?), it makes perfect sense for there to be a sequel to a movie focused on Paul’s last journey to Jerusalem to make a “gift” from the Gentile Christians to the Jewish Christian mother church in that city. Of course, this very exploration leads naturally to questions about where one might appropriately end the story of Paul’s activity, why Luke stops telling the story where he does, what fate Paul eventually met, and why he met it whenever you think he did. As I have said before, historians and scholars tend to be very good at analysis of the individual pieces of evidence, but we have much to gain from creative interactions with a filmmaker who is willing to take our work and ask what it looks like if turned back into a narrative. Obviously the public benefits from a cinematic rendition that incorporates scholars’ insights. But we the academic experts also benefit, I believe, not just because our work can potentially reach a wider audience, but because the act of turning anakysis into story challenges us to think about the evidence we study in new ways.
For more about Rob’s first apostle Paul movie, and his longstanding fascination with the apostle Paul, check out this interview (which I also mentioned here back in November):
There is more about Rob and his work on this subject on the movie website.
Rob is currently working on completing the Apostle Paul sequel. In the meantime, you might be interested to check out his latest movie, due out in theaters in April, about another individual that Rob views as “a prophet without honor in his own home,” namely General Patton:
You can also find the trailer on Vimeo…