This DVD set consists of 13 episodes each about 52 minutes and is designed as a historical experiencing through the ages of how the Christian faith came about. It establishes historical differences and common beliefs/associations between Jews, Muslims, and Christians--such as how Jerusalem was negotiated to be the "City of Three Religions."
This documentary, originally aired in 1977, is hosted by Bamber Gascolgne, British, who has several historical documentaries to his credit as well as dozens of books. Occasionally, his presentations, and awkward smiles, suggest a sarcastic or jesting tone when dealing with points of religious fervor. He seems not to have a personal faith (although that is not stated). To be fair, Gascolgne states in the beginning that Christianity is a "faith"--not provable, but also not disprovable.
Christianity from all eras beginning with the first century AD is considered, with highlighted experiences predominantly dedicated to the bizarre and unusual activity of peoples claiming to be Christian. These include rich/poor, all manner of nationalities, all races, and minor groups such as Amish, monks, emperors, Zealots, Calvinists, Pilgrims, Orthodox, Protestants, and with a main focus on the Roman Catholics. That is somewhat explained because the general religion title of Christian covers slightly over 33% of the world's 2007 population, with Roman Catholic being 51% of that group.
The intent was neither affirmation, nor condemnation of Christianity as a religion; instead it is an outside-looking-in educational and historical study of the people, from rulers to the most common of men and women who claimed Christianity as their own. There will be some Christians who may take some offense since the included parts tend toward more of the controversial aspects. Soup kitchens, free clinics, mercy hospital ships, disaster relief, and other more positive Christian activities are focused on. Why?
The DVDs explain some of the political events and factions that had an extreme impact on this 2000+ year old faith, as well as changes that were caused. Sometimes these events caused huge swellings of the faithful ranks. The set explains some of the broad differences between countries and people groups--different beliefs--but all professing under the same heading of "Christian."
The filming takes place in 30 country locations, making it quite the religious travelogue. It also contains a vast assortment of fine art from sculpture, painting, mosaics, and religious artifacts, as well as architecture. Many of these fine art pieces are owned by Christian religious facilities. From Michelangelo to the craftsmen of the periods, you will enjoy the arts.
The narrator's words are subtitled, helpful when the narrator's British accented pronunciation is different than common, American, English usage.
The beginning of a conclusion for the set is of struggles and works in a Christian church of Poland (officially an atheist country) in 1977. That's followed by San Gimigrano in Tuscany (Italy, town of medieval towers.) The town has a 30-year split between Christian and Communist politicians. Communist's there are felt to be more honest, in that power struggle.
The host also ended by stating that he "read the entire New Testament straight through ... and found it impossible to believe that someone coming to it for the first time would find a clear impression of what Christ or Christianity had stood for." He felt any religious message could be interpreted and produced--and thus, he has reported HIS OWN. Some will object at his style, at what he includes to represent Christianity, and also for what was left unreported. But then, how can you fairly summarize Christianity in 674 minutes that has taken over 2000 years to evolve?
Historically enlightening but it probably will not win Christian converts. What's the Pope's opinion?
I am a Christian. I believe in Christ as the Messiah. This DVD did not hinder nor help my faith. As the narrator stated, he proved nothing, nor disproved anything as well.