If you have a chance, I recommend each of you carve out the evening of Dec 20, from 7-9pm, to watch CNN. The show is called After Jesus: The First Christians, and it is an excellent and stimulating presentation of the first four centuries of the Christian faith. CNN kindly sent me an advanced copy and I have watched it in its entirety.
Dec 21, in the morning, I would like to begin a conversation on this blog with those who watched it the evening before. (It will also be replayed Friday Dec 22 at 10pm and 1am; Saturday Dec 23 and Sunday Dec 24 at 8pm and 12am.)
Here are some highlights and an indication of the shape and content of the program:
CNN interviewed Bart Ehrman, Claire Pfann, Amy-Jill Levine, Robin Griffith-Jones, Lawrence Schiffmann, Richard Freund, Marvin Meyer and Gerald O’Collins. Ehrman appears the most.
The visual images are brilliant — as always for CNN — and there are an abundance of graphics, icons, artwork, pictures — all done with lovely color and texture.
The emphasis — to be expected — is diversity in the first four centuries, with a solid segment devoted to the gnostic threat to orthodoxy.
I won’t give away too much of my own view here, but the essential story line is one familiar to those who have engaged the public debate since Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code and Bart Ehrman’s numerous publications. In my estimation, the silencing of the voices of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athanasius is telling.