402: Welcome to a holy week for Christians and Jews — Tune In Tonight!

We’ve got lots of inspiring Holy Week and Passover resources to share with you this week!

    HOLY WEEK: Our new Spiritual Seasons column tells you all about the important observances this week. Plus, Dr. Benjamin Pratt offers a stirring reflection on Holy Week, “The Shack” and temptation. AND, we’re in the final week of “Our Lent: Things We Carry,” which includes Bible videos and wise comments from our partners.
    PASSOVER: The TV recommendations today are likely to interest our Jewish readers, as well. ALSO TODAY, Dr. Wayne Baker kicks off a provocative discussion about the meaning of “Freedom”! PLUS, you won’t want to miss Tuesday’s news on “Live and Become,” a stirring movie about an Ethiopian immigrant’s struggle to adapt in Israel. Rabbi Jill Jacobs talks with us on Wednesday about Jewish traditions in social justice — just in time to spark lively conversation at your Seder.


    TONIGHT’S three National Geographic Channel documentaries may seem, at first glance, to be aimed exclusively at Christians. But I’ve previewed all three and I suspect Jewish viewers may find some of this quite interesting, as well. Why? Because all three center on Jerusalem. All three emphasize the multi-layered faith traditions in the ancient city. And the final of the three films, in particular — “Who Really Killed Jesus?” — makes a persuasive attempt at derailing anti-Semitic interpretations of the crucifixion. Bravo for that!
    Here are highlights …

    “IN SEARCH OF JESUS’ TOMB” — This 1-hour film, which debuts at 8 PM tonight (Monday April 6), is fascinating and a very helpful corrective in the midst of popular media that loves to perpetuate conspiracy theories. Instead, this film tries to shed some clear light on the mysteries concerning one particularly important ancient grave site.
    You may have heard about the “Jesus Family Tomb” controversy — an archaeological discovery in 1980 under an Israeli construction project that contained many stone niches underground. Within those niches were many stone “bone boxes,” where human remains were laid to rest around the time of Jesus. From this discovery came a controversial series of claims about these boxes — and the inscriptions scratched into their outer surfaces. At one point, a group of scholars made headlines by claiming that this was Jesus’ family tomb. They also argued that Jesus, Jesus’ wife and perhaps even Jesus’ child all were buried there.
    This new documentary builds suspense by repeating that sensational claim in the opening minutes — but the film really is a step-by-step refutation of the “Jesus family” theory. For example, the U.S. Catholic bishops’ own official TV-and-film critic recommends this documentary, calling it “a calm account of the dispute and a generally thoughtful examination of the evidence.”
    I agree — except that I think it’s more exciting than this Catholic review suggests. Well done National Geographic!
    AND, CARE TO READ MORE? I’m also recommending Shimon Gibson’s own brand-new book, “The Final Days of Jesus,” which provides much more background on the investigation of this tomb.

    “SECRETS OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR” — The middle program in this trio is solid and also quite interesting. Writers from the great Sir Walter Scott to best-selling thriller writer Dan Brown can’t seem to get enough of this mysterious group of knights with sacred vows. For example, “Ivanhoe” involves the Knights Templar as well as “The Da Vinci Code.”
    You’ll be pleased to watch this one as a bridge between the more important 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows.

   “WHO REALLY KILLED JESUS?” — The third debut in this trio of films is the most important to watch.
    There’s really nothing new in the historical research presented here — if you’ve been following books on this subject in recent years. But, most of us don’t have the time to read all the new literature, so this is a great 1-hour overview of current scholarly theories on the forces that condemned Jesus to death.
    Not only do we get an intriguing biography of Pontius Pilate and visit some cool scenery in Rome and Israel, but the film winds up explaining why some passages in the Christian gospels want to shift the emphasis on what really happened to try to soften Pilate’s guilt.

(PLEASE NOTE: If you’re reading this story via RSS feed or our free Email service, please click here to jump to our actual Web site — where you can watch a couple of National Geographic preview clips below.)

OUR FIRST VIDEO CLIP comes from “In Search of Jesus’ Tomb.” You’ll see archaeologist Shimon Gibson in action. The clip provides a little background about this intriguing tomb found under a construction site.

OUR SECOND VIDEO CLIP comes from “Who Really Killed Jesus?” The short scene gives you a feel for the approach of the documentary. You’ll see the actor recreating what Pontius Pilate might have looked like. NOTE: Yes, this clip does include a brief scene of an actor, portraying Jesus as he is scourged and crucified — but — no, this is not a repeat of Mel Gibson’s gory cinematic style. Most of the National Geographic documentary is focused on Pilate’s life and includes some fascinating background on how such a Roman official likely wound up serving in Jerusalem in that era.


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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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