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Religions — History
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Stonehenge in Context [electronic resource]: From Modern Myth to Ancient History

Using 3-D computer re-creations of Stonehenge during its three phases of construction, archival film and photos of archaeological excavations, and artwork, this program traces the long history of Britain's most famous Neolithic landmark. Archaeologists Geoffrey Wainwright, Dave Batchelor, and Gillian Swanton and authors Rosamund Cleal, Clive Ruggles, Christopher Chippindale, and Mike Pitts consider the many theories posited over the centuries, summarily debunking some and conservatively praising others. Remarkable footage of a recent attempt to build a similar monument using ancient human-powered methods is included.
2005; 2002

Easter Island in Context [electronic resource]: From Paradise to Calamity

When Dutch sailors landed on Easter Island, they found a warlike people recovering from anarchy and cannibalism. What had gone wrong with a civilization that had lived in peace for nearly a thousand years? In this program, Claudio Cristino, the island's resident archaeologist; William Liller, of the Easter Island Foundation; Patricia Vargas Casanova, of the Easter Island Studies Institute at the University of Chile; and others offer their views on moai, rongorongo tablets, the Birdman Cult, and the devastating effects of overpopulation, to provide a captivating glimpse of a complex culture driven to the brink of extinction. Images of artifacts, 3-D computer graphics, and artwork enhance the program.
2006; 2002

Noah's Flood in Context [electronic resource]: Legend or History?

How much truth is there in the Old Testament account of Noah? Enhanced by satellite imagery, declassified intelligence photos, archival footage, and artwork, this program considers the scientific plausibility of the Noah story. Experts including Porcher Taylor III; archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, of the University of Pennsylvania; linguist Peter Machinist, of Harvard Divinity School; geologist Farouk El-Baz, of Boston University; and others discuss the efforts of British Museum researcher George Smith, archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley, explorer Fernand Navarra, and former astronaut James Irwin to prove the Noah story while presenting counter-theories based on the latest scientific scholarship and research.
2006; 2002

The Mystery of the Tomb of Jesus [electronic resource]: Quest for Historical Christ

This program uses footage of the caverns beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other sacred sites, artwork, and expert commentary to analyze the historicity of Jesus' last days, the political context of 1st-century Jerusalem, and the emergence of Christianity as an institution. Jesus' execution, burial of the dead in Jewish tradition, the significance of Jesus' tomb, and two millennia of Jerusalem's history are addressed by N. T. Wright, canon theologian of Westminster Abbey; archaeologist Ronny Reich, of the University of Haifa; Martin Biddle, of the University of Oxford; Jonathan Riley-Smith, of the University of Cambridge; author John Dominic Crossan; and others.
2005; 2002

Revolution of Conscience [electronic resource]: Life, Convictions, and Legacy of Martin Luther

Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenberg hoping to open a theological dialogue. Instead, he sparked the Reformation. This definitive documentary chronicles Luther's life and lasting impact on religion and society through a wealth of location footage, original manuscripts, period paintings, and expert commentary from Dr. Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School, and Dr. Paul Richardson, professor of hymnology at Samford University. Providing social and historical context, the program elucidates key theological issues, such as sanctification, justification, the sale of plenary indulgences, the dogma of transubstantiation, and, ultimately, the origin of religious authority itself.
2005; 2003

Baalbek [electronic resource]: Roman Temple Complex

On the plains of Beqaa, on the site of the Phoenician city of Baalbek, stands what is arguably the world's most impressive testament to Imperial Roman architecture: the gigantic temple complex dedicated to Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus. Its six-story columns are the tallest ever erected, and its stones-some weighing nearly a thousand tons-are the largest ever used. In this program, architect Jean-Pierre Adam, of the National Center of Scientific Research, and Chaker Ghadban, former director of Lebanese antiquities, utilize the existing remains and computer-generated animation to demonstrate how the immense temples at Baalbek were built.
2005; 2001

Petra [electronic resource]: City in Rock

Setting out from the ancient Red Sea port of Aqaba, this program travels to Petra, a pivotal trading center that sat astride the caravan route from Arabia to points north. An arid place of monumental structures carved into the colorful sandstone mountains, the Nabatean capital is also the site of innovative storm water management and water conservation systems. A low-altitude flight over the Wadi Rum, a visit to an ornate cave building, and a virtual walk through the temple of the god Dusura highlight this archaeological field trip to a place that is part natural wonder, part architectural jewel.
2006; 2001

Teotihuacan [electronic resource]: City of Gods

Reputedly the first great city of the Western hemisphere, Teotihuacan, the City of the Gods, is also one of the most mysterious. Who lived there? What were its inhabitants like? And why did their culture collapse? In this program, archaeologist Ruben Cabrera Castro, co-director of the site, leads the way down the Avenue of the Dead-and inside both the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, normally closed to the public. The city's political, religious, commercial, and artistic influences on subsequent societies are considered. A virtual fly-over reveals Teotihuacan's carefully planned layout.
2006; 2001

Deir el-Bahri [electronic resource]: Temple of Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut, Egypt's only female pharaoh, was said to be a ruler with two faces: one political, the other artistic. This program tours her architectural masterpiece, the terraced and rock-cut temple at Deir el-Bahri that her people called djeser-djeseru, "sacred of sacreds." Numerous paintings adorning the interior chronicle her achievements and peace-loving enterprises, and a computer-generated reconstruction of frescoes gives a glimpse of the exotic land of Punt. Why did Hatshepsut's successor desecrate her beautiful works and strive to erase her very existence from history?
2006; 2001

Breaking the Wall of Religious Public Opinion [electronic resource]: How the Study of Interfaith Cross-Pollination in the Islamicate World Can Uncover Common Ground

In a world characterized by borders between religions, can academia transcend them to find common ground? This 2010 Falling Walls lecture video explores the question in a Middle Eastern context. Sabine Schmidtke argues that an open mind in research can significantly contribute to shaping a less biased and more refined public opinion. Schmidtke, a leading scholar in Islamic studies and sectional editor of theology and philosophy for the Encyclopedia of Islam, aims to trace a cultural and intellectual commonality between Muslims, Jews, and Christians in one of the most conflict-prone regions in the world. She is a recipient of the World Prize for the Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2002 and the European Research Council Advanced Grant in 2008.

The Vatican's Lost War [electronic resource]: Pope John XXIII's Council a Half-Century Later

Shortly after his election in 1958, Pope John XXIII announced to an astonished world that he planned to convene an Ecumenical Council in Rome-an event that became known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II. Produced on the 50th anniversary of the historic gathering, this film presents interviews with high-ranking clergy members and Church officials with detailed knowledge of how Vatican II came about. Not least among these is Loris Francesco Capovilla, Pope John XXIII's personal friend and private secretary, who describes the trepidation he felt when the Holy Father told him what he intended to do. The film also explores the repercussions of Vatican II through the years and how they relate to the dilemmas facing the Catholic Church today.

Many Faces of Faith [electronic resource]

Religious tolerance is one of the founding principles of this country, yet it sometimes seems to be in short supply. This ABC News report discusses religion with eight young people, who share their thoughts on their own religion as well as the faith of other.

Americans [electronic resource]: Losing Their Religion?

America is becoming less Christian and less religious overall. This ABC News report examines the decrease in the number of people who say they belong to an organized religion. While the number of atheists in this country has doubled in the past 30 years,and church attendance has decreased, Americans have not given up their faith in God.

Mystery of the Magi [electronic resource]

The legend of the Three Wise Men from the East who came bearing gifts has been a part of Christian lore from the beginning. This ABC News report investigates just who the Magi were. From the 12 verses in the book of Matthew to newly discovered ancient texts that show them to be descendants of Adam and Eve's third son, Seth, the history of the Three Kings is a story of devotion.

Pope John Paul II [electronic resource]: His Life and Legacy

How does a poor little boy from a small town in Poland become pope? This ABC News report examines the forces, experiences, and people that shaped the man known to the world as Pope John Paul II. Born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in Krakow, Poland, in 1920, John Paul was elected pope in 1978 in a world that was quickly becoming internationally aware through the advent of global satellite TV. Known as The People's Pope, John Paul became renowned for his advocacy of human rights and his struggles to unite people of various faiths.

Jesus and Paul and the Word and the Witness [electronic resource]

In this ABC News special program, Peter Jennings tells the story of Jesus of Nazareth, Paul the Apostle, and Christianity in its first decades. When Rome ruled the world from Europe to the heart of the Middle East, the caesars were gods and most people knew nothing about a young Jewish peasant named Jesus of Nazareth. After Jesus' death and resurrection, Paul becomes the main character in the Bible story about the birth of Christianity. Trace the story of Jesus and Paul, two men of remarkable faith, iron will, and radical vision. Without them the religion we know today as Christianity would not exist. Both sacrificed everything for the belief that God had chosen them to change the world. They did.

Zeitgeist [electronic resource]: The Movie - the Greatest Story Ever Told

This program presents historical data relating to the astronomical and astrological origins of Judeo-Christian theology (which can be extended to Islam as well), along with the understanding that these respective stories, beliefs, and traditions are really an adaptation/extension of prior pagan beliefs.

When God Was a Girl [electronic resource]

Travelling across the Mediterranean and Near East to some of the world's oldest sacred places, in this program Bettany Hughes finds evidence that women were part of the very birth of organized religion. Hughes studies Minoan snake goddess figurines and female representations at sites throughout Turkey, and explains how societal changes saw the worship of Zeus and other male gods begin to diminish reverence for the feminine divine. Hughes also attends a Durga festival in India and learns what this goddess means to her devotees.

Resurrection [electronic resource]: A Search for Answers

This ABC News report takes an extraordinary journey into the debate over the story that is at the core of the Christian faith: the Resurrection. The stories of the resurrection of Jesus Christ inspire faith and fuel controversy to this day. Scholars, theologians, and archeologists discuss questions that have caused doubt among many: Was the tomb empty? Did Jesus physically walk the Earth after his death? Or were his followers just dreaming? Peter Jennings goes to the Holy Land and retraces the footsteps and the life of Jesus.

Ancient Bibles [electronic resource]

The Codex Sinaiticus is the world's oldest surviving bible. Made around 350 AD, it is a unique insight into early Christians and their effort to find a single version of the biblical text that everyone could accept. Approximately 800 years later, an illuminated bible rich in gold and lapis lazuli and produced in Winchester, recalls a time when bibles were at the center of the Church's struggle with the State for ultimate authority. Both of these bibles are works of art and remarkable achievements in book technology. They are also annotations on the political era in which they were created, providing fascinating commentary on the life of Jesus and the murder of Thomas Becket.