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Less than a week from the day Christians worldwide will celebrate the birth of Jesus, National Geographic Channel presents a look at the world into which the babe was born in the fun and engaging “Living in the Time of Jesus.” Hosted by Arne Kislenko, a professor at Canada’s Ryerson University who was named the “Best Lecturer in Ontario” by TV Ontario viewers following 2005’s Big Ideas “Academic Idol,” the three episode series is to fans of biblical archaeology what “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” is to foodies – an educational journey with a lovable host who is willing to try anything. Drawing on biblical accounts of Jesus’ life, Kislenko explores, and experiences, the ancient world with the help of modern experts.

While all three of the “Living in the Time of Jesus” specials – “Making a Living,” “Healing the Sick,” and “Crime and Punishment” – are captivating, “Healing the Sick” edges out “Crime and Punishment” as my favorite. (But, then again, I was probably one of only a handful of high school students ever to write a term paper on Medieval medical practices.) In the episode, which airs at 9:00 p.m. on National Geographic Channel, Kislenko submits to ancient treatments such as leeching, cupping and even a migraine remedy of tying a goat hair rope tightly around one’s head. There’s something completely endearing about a man who is willing to endure the bite of hermaphroditic bloodsuckers or allow a ladle of boiling molten lead mere inches from his head in order to educate his audience.All three episodes air tonight, Tuesday, December 21, on National Geographic Channel. “Living in the Time of Jesus: Making a Living” airs at 8:00 p.m. ET. “Living in the Time of Jesus: Healing the Sick” airs at 9:00 p.m. ET. “Living in the Time of Jesus: Crime and Punishment” airs at 10:00 p.m. ET.

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