Apostle [1997]

Stars: Robert Duvall, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Bob Thornton, June Carter Cash, Miranda Richardson
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 134 minutes

The Story of the Twelve Apostles This documentary from the History Channel does a fine job examining the lives of the 12 disciples chosen by Christ to carry his teachings to the world. Beginning by providing an historical overview of life in Jerusalem under Roman rule, it goes on to cogently explain the circumstances by which Jesus, having become recognized as a teacher, was able to recruit his apostles. Intelligently handled reenactments provide dramatizations of significant events in the lives of the disciples, and their diverse personalities and individual relationships with Jesus, as well as their lives following the crucifixion, are covered in some depth. Biblical scholars, including university professors and priests, appear throughout in interview segments to offer their insights, and the narration by actor Martin Sheen is understated but always interesting. The issue of separating fact from myth is dealt with at some length, and a discussion of how some accounts of the lives of the apostles came to be judged as the Apocrypha is of particular interest. The Story of the Twelve Apostles is a commendable look at some of history's most intriguing figures, 12 men who were considered outlaws but whose influence is today felt around the world. --Robert J. McNamara The Story of Paul the Apostle The impassioned life work of the devout Jew who persecuted Christians until he heard the voice of God is thoroughly examined in this 66-minute History Channel documentary. Drawing on the biblical writings of his friend Luke, his own Epistles, and the meager additional writings of the time, this film begins with Paul's conversion and follows his three decades of traveling missionary work, imprisonment, trials, and eventual martyrdom in Rome. Biblical scholars and historians augment Martin Sheen's narration of this secular look at his life. Lavish illustrations include artwork (stained glass, mosaics, paintings, sculpture), old black-and-white movies, contemporary reenactments, and footage of today's ruins of many of the temples and landmarks where Paul preached from Israel to Turkey to Athens. Always controversial in his day, Paul gets his due here, being credited as the single most influential person in taking Christianity from a fledgling sect to a worldwide church. --Kimberly Heinrichs

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