The Christians (1977)

 One of my recent interests has been church history. A long standing passion of mine is Christian theology, which is illuminated by church history. Documentarian Bamber Gascoigne produced this 13-part made-for-TV series on the history of Christians. Stylistically, it is marked by the era in which it is made (the 1970s), but the era also impacts the approach that Gascoigne takes in presenting the Christians. In recent decades we have seen the emergence of a rather vocal Christian right in the United States, a steep decline in the practice of Christianity in Europe, and the renewed popularity of atheism and interest in other world religions. This has led to Christianity being looked down upon by the popular culture (I just heard a man singing on the radio about how Christianity makes no sense to him, so he's picking hell - yes, it is ironic). When Gascoigne makes this 11 hour documentary, Christianity is still has a strong western presence and it is treated with respect.

The series begins in first century Jerusalem and follows the gradual geographic, cultural, political, and theological iterations over the next 20 centuries. Mr. Gascoigne narrates throughout and does a remarkable job presenting each major change in Christian culture by highlighting both the remnant architectural and artistic features from each era and the denominational representations from those changes (ie. the Amish are portrayed when speaking about Anabaptist history or Guatemalan Catholics are portrayed to show the colonial missions in Central and South America).

Because of its length, the series ensures that adequate depth is allocated since the breadth of the story is so great.

I highly rate this intricate telling of Christians' story. I would gladly watch the series several more times.

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