Sunday, December 23, 2007

CNN: The Mystery of Jesus

CNN Presents: The Mystery of Jesus: The Inside Story. This one hour Christmas special reviews the scripture passages and compares it to archeological evidence about the life of Jesus. A British anthropologist reconstructs what Jesus may have looked at from a skeleton of a contemporary. It is likely that he was short and swarthy.

The film reviews the life of Jesus and appears to use a model of Jerusalem. It focuses on why a teacher and, in some ways, political agitator like Jesus attracted persecution from the authorities. This all happened on foot and by word of mouth or courier in a society without electricity or an Internet, although geographically the area was compact. Much is written about the expectations of the Jews for a Messiah, and the Romans could feel that any such person could undermine their control. Pontius Pilate tried to engineer a political tightrope which involved the Jewish leadership, which could gain relief by placing all blame on Jesus.

There is discussion of the fact that Mary was very young, that Joseph was probably much older (women married and bore children much earlier in ancient and Middle Ages cultures, a fact that English teachers have to explain when teaching "Romeo and Juliet"). It discounts the idea that Mary Magdalene could have married Jesus.

One wonders why the government was so insecure that it had to overreact to the speech of one person. One reason is that he did attract such a large following, especially with the miracles, and with the apparent paradoxes in his teachings about the law and the value of people. Yet, the government seemed to give him all the more credibility by treating him as a threat. It did not have to.

The last part of the documentary describes the physical processes associated with death by crucifixion.

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