ABC News Presents: The Search For Paul
Koch Entertainment // Unrated // $19.95 // December 7, 2004
Review by Matt Langdon | posted March 8, 2005
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Who was St Paul? At one point in this made-for-TV documentary host Peter Jennings asks this question to a number of bystanders and tourists in Rome and all he gets are blank stares. Jennings uses this to illustrate the point that Paul - who was the single most influential person who spread Christianity in the first century throughout the Roman world - is not too well known today.

So who was he? Basically he was a Jewish man who converted to Christianity after he had a vision and heard Christ's voice on the road to Demascus. From that point he set about spreading the word of Jesus who he believed was the savior. He too wrote many letters which became part of the New Testament. More importantly one of his biggest messages was that converts did not have to be Jewish [or circumcised] to be a Christian.

The documentary features interviews with 30 scholars and people of faith (including Karen Armstrong, Reverund Dr. Calvin O Butts III, Robert Funk, Richard Horsley and Elaine Pagels) and follows the path of Paul to tell the history of who he was and what influence he had on early Christianity.

Perhaps the thing that comes across strongest in the documentary is that Paul had come to believe that the world was going to end soon. And this informed and affected every letter he wrote and every move that he made. Understanding this context may give a different perspective on Paul and more significantly on the words that he wrote. Many scholars in this documentary come to the conclusion that Paul did not believe we would be reading and intepreting his words 2000 years later therefore we must understand their context and not be too literal in fitting them into our lives today.

Some of Paul's writing also became texts that were used during the Inquisition and also used by Hitler to justify his horrible actions against Jews. Yet Paul was not really that fanatical.

The documentary is much like the other ABC TV documentary The Search for Jesus and features the same format and interview layout. The editing is quick and stylish and the musical score selection runs the gamut from classical chamber music to rock, electronica and hip hop.

The Search for Paul is an informative well made 90 minute made-for-TV documentary about St Paul. For those who know little about Paul this is a very good place to start. But even if you know his story and the history of Christianity it is still worth watching.

Video:
Presented in 4 x 3 [1.33:1] aspect ratio the image is very sharp and crisp. There is very little edge enhancement or artefact detectable.

Audio:
Audio is in Dolby Digital with English Subtitles.

Extras:
Extras are minimal. There are short biographies on 27 of the interviewees, a section called The Path which describes [in short blurbs] 16 locations that Paul traveled around and there is a photo gallery with 8 photos that isn't much.

Overall:
The Search for Paul is a well made and informative documentary on St Paul It is recommended for anyone interested and would be worth watching in a church or a secular setting.



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