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Apostle Paul and the Earliest Churches is a brilliant and illuminating production. Beginning with his conversion, it reenacts Paul's missionary journeys on Anatolian soil (modern Turkey). This brief, 48-minute Christian DVD contains an archaeological treasury: mosaics, frescoes, statues, amphitheaters, agoras, temples and more. The historical, religious, and archaeological background of each Anatolian region in which Paul preached the gospel is explained.
Yet this film is more than an archaeological or historical survey; this production's reenactment of the miracles Paul performed, the difficulties he encountered, and the persecution he faced beckons the viewer to experience with the Apostle himself the birth of the Christian church.
The film's archaeological emphasis is enhanced by 3D animated maps and footage of Antioch on the Orontes, Pisidian Antioch, Ephesus, Tarsus, and other cities important to Paul.
This review first appeared on my blog, Jacob's Café (jacobscafe.blogspot.com).
One of my fondest memories of living with my grandpa was going to monthly biblical archaeology meetings together. While I haven't had the opportunity to visit biblical locations, I find presentations on the topic quite interesting. FishFlix, a vendor of Christian DVDs, asked me to review a DVD entitled, Apostle Paul and The Earliest Churches, described on the cover as "Ephesus, Antioch, Tarsus, Galatia--an illuminating visit to the places where key New Testament events took place."
Indeed, this documentary provides visuals for many sites Paul visited in the course of his ministry. However, the sites weren't well-described. Various images and details were shown on screen, but often for only a second. I found myself frequently wanting to examine the details longer and find out more of the history and information about the location.
Ultimately, the documentary seems to have two related, but distinct purposes: (1) reenact Paul's missionary journeys, and (2) explore the historical, religious, and archaeological history of the sites Paul visited. Unfortunately, in 48 minutes, this is too much to try to accomplish, and the DVD did not seem to effectively capture either purpose, both being cut short by the other. I frequently kept wondering what the intent of the film was.
There is a lot of great potential, but it just feels like it is trying to be too many things to be effective. Production quality was modest and dated, and extra attention to detail and consistency would have been beneficial (for instance, captions would be helpful, and text on screen always said "Antioch in Psidia" while the narrator always said "Psidian Antioch," which sounds like Psidia in Antioch).
It's not a bad film, but it's really a very basic introduction. The study guide actually seems stronger than the documentary itself, but even that is pretty basic.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” (Posted on 7/16/16)
I learned a lot about Paul's travel and the challenges he had in preaching the gospel. I compared the places he traveled with the Bible map in the back of the book. That helped in my understanding of the geography of the area. (Posted on 4/7/15)
Awesome (Posted on 9/24/13)
Apostle Paul and the Earliest Churches - DVD
This is such an inspiring movie and the special effects are amazing! I really like how it gives us glimpse of the rich historical importance of the areas St. Paul visited. This is an absolutely brilliant movie that I think both an intellectual and a young person would enjoy. I'm pretty tough when it comes to ratings too. (Posted on 12/7/10)