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Sunday, January 26, 2014

JD Crossan on Paul

- Conversion of Saint Paul - Michelangelo Buonarroti

Yesterday was the feast of the Conversion of Paul, and today I saw a post, The Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe comes to Duke this week, at Professor Mark Goodacre's blog. The post is about a movie on Paul taking a collection of funds from Antioch to the church in Jerusalem (link). Mark wrote this about the movie in an earlier post ...

[...] The film itself is quite original. As regular readers will know, I am something of a consumer of documentaries about the New Testament, and I can't recall having seen anything quite like this. Its chief focus is on Paul's collection for the saints in Jerusalem. It tells the story of Paul's troubled relations with James, Peter and the other apostles in Jerusalem, and explains how he became fixated on what it calls his "polite bribe"

The film uses an unseen narrator and a unique animation style that somehow manages to capture the sense of this as another world. Orlando avoids usual documentary distractions of shots of present day Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, and so on. But most strikingly, the story is told primarily by means of multiple modern-day Biblical scholars.

Many of the top shots are there. They include documentary regulars like Bart Ehrman and Tom Wright, new documentary stars like Candida Moss, and many I have not seen before on film, Philip Esler, Douglas Campbell, Amy-Jill Levine. Orlando seems to get the best out of them all. Ben Witherington III appears often and is surprisingly amusing. Indeed, many of them appear relaxed and even humorous, perhaps because they all get a little more than the usual twenty second soundbites.

I was impressed by the way that the film manages to weave a story that scholars know well into a narrative that would be comprehensible and compelling to those with no knowledge of the field. It's certainly something I would enjoy using in the classroom, but I suspect that those who will enjoy it most will be those who are unaccustomed to reflecting critically on Paul's biography ...

Here's JD Crossan on Paul and the movie ...


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