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Top Customer Reviews
This documentary, originally aired in 1977, is hosted by Bamber Gascolgne, British, who has several historical documentaries to his credit as well as dozens of books. Occasionally, his presentations, and awkward smiles, suggest a sarcastic or jesting tone when dealing with points of religious fervor. He seems not to have a personal faith (although that is not stated). To be fair, Gascolgne states in the beginning that Christianity is a "faith"--not provable, but also not disprovable.
Christianity from all eras beginning with the first century AD is considered, with highlighted experiences predominantly dedicated to the bizarre and unusual activity of peoples claiming to be Christian. These include rich/poor, all manner of nationalities, all races, and minor groups such as Amish, monks, emperors, Zealots, Calvinists, Pilgrims, Orthodox, Protestants, and with a main focus on the Roman Catholics. That is somewhat explained because the general religion title of Christian covers slightly over 33% of the world's 2007 population, with Roman Catholic being 51% of that group.
The intent was neither affirmation, nor condemnation of Christianity as a religion; instead it is an outside-looking-in educational and historical study of the people, from rulers to the most common of men and women who claimed Christianity as their own.Read more ›
My greatest criticism is that the series (being a product of the 1970s), always assumes of the worst of Christians. Whether in their un-Christianlike treatment of each other, or, especially, in their treatment of other civilizations. More than once the host condemns Christians for their treatment of the (assumed superior) Muslims, but also Africans, native Americans, etc. In the 1970's mindset, no Christian ever did anything good. Yet even with the perspective of 30 years to look back on it, in his introduction the host said he still got pretty much everything right, including, despite 9/11, the good intentions of Muslims and bad intentions of Christians in their relations with each other.
On a more positive and rather amazing note, the final episode is titled "The Godless State," and deals with Christianity in the modern secular state, whether democratic or communist. In the west, he highlights Britain and Netherlands, and how well things go even when nobody goes to church. In the east, he highlights the strength of the Church in Poland under the communists. Coincidentally, the series was made in '77, the year before the election of John Paul II, so this is the amazing part. The election of the pope would have made a wonderful climax to the series. As it is, it's clear that the host expected the secular state in the form of communism to continue its expansion. (Perhaps everyone did in 1977.) But JP2 certainly made his contribution to world history as far as that is concerned.
So while I would say this series was and remains quite good and mostly valid, it really could do with a bit of updating.
"Legendary British broadcaster, historian and author Bamber Gascoigne charts the history and evolution of Christianity in The Christians - a thought provoking and challengin documentary series covering two thousand years of history. The first show to be written and presented by Bamber Gascoigne, this four-disc set contains all 13 episodes of this acclaimed series for the first time on DVD.
Filmed in 1977 in more than 30 countries and broadcast in more than 50 countries worldwide, The Christians is a meticulously constructed, lavishly produced series that describes the experiences and actions of Christians from the birth of Christ, through the Roman Empire, the Renaissance and Lutheran reform to modern times. The series also considers the spread of Christianity, whether by violence - as in the Inquisition - or through the travels of missionaries.
This DVD features a newly filmed introduction to the series by Bamber Gascoigne."
1. A Peculiar People - The birth of Christ and how Christianity began to spread its message
2. The Christian Empire - The adoption of Christianity by the Romans as the 'official' state religion
3. The Birth of Europe - Christianity faces the threat of barbarian invasions
4. Faith and Fear - Superstitions and the achievements of the Middle Ages
5. People of the Book - Three religious groups which have come out of the Middle East: Jews, Christians and Muslims
6. Princes and Prelates - The spiritual squalor of the Popes and the masterpieces of the Renaissance
7. Protest and Reform - The impact on Christianity of Martin Luther
8.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Saw this years ago, at a time of my own spirtiual awakening. The narrator's clothing may long be out of style but the commentary and his delivery remain just as fascinating . Read morePublished on April 24, 2013 by David135
It was a great series years ago on PBS and now it's available for all. Gascoigne is a clever scholar with a wry sense of humor and an appealing persona. Read morePublished on July 3, 2010 by Joe Ponic
"THE CHRISTIANS" leaves out the entire Eastern Church except for Russian Orthodoxy! There are many Eastern Rite Catholics (who are in communion with Rome) as well as many Eastern... Read morePublished on January 24, 2010 by +Sister Geraldine M. Wagner