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Religions — History
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Early Christianity [electronic resource]

In the first centuries A.D., barbarian attacks and other factors made the Roman Empire increasingly unstable. People rejected Greco-Roman rationalism and turned toward Mithraism, Judaism, and an emerging Christianity. Concurrently, an increasingly insecure society produced art objects to ward off witches and demons.

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.

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.

A Leap of Faith [electronic resource]

Politics and terrorism have failed to secure peace for Northern Ireland. Now four heroic families in Belfast band together to create a school that integrates their own Catholic and Protestant children. Using archival sections which dramatically but objectively explain the conflict, this program integrates a history of Ireland's "troubles" with a story of hope. Despite 62 explosions and 40 deaths during the first four months, the school is able to celebrate its first anniversary, proving that peace is not only possible, but inevitable.

Cluny [electronic resource]: A Light in the Night

During the Middle Ages, Cluny Abbey dominated western Europe with a power that rivaled the papacy itself. The abbots of Cluny-men of great sanctity and commanding ability-centralized the Benedictine Order into a system in which they directly controlled all of the hundreds of other monasteries. Under their guidance, thousands of monastics joined together in studies and activities that greatly enriched medieval life. As an outgrowth of their efforts, the code of chivalry was created, which redirected the energies of warring knights into the Crusades; pilgrimages to the numerous monasteries became fashionable, which increased the exchange of knowledge and culture throughout Europe; and monastic business models began to influence secular commerce. This program offers a fresh look at the [...]

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.

Wrath of the Gods [electronic resource]

Spanning the reigns of Emperors Philip and Decius, this program captures the struggle of polytheism to retain its cultural primacy in the face of Christianity's growing popularity.

The Word and the Sword [electronic resource]

In this episode, Andrew Marr plunges into the spiritual revolutions that shook the world between 300 BC and 700 AD. This was an age that saw the bloody prince Ashoka turn to Buddhism in India; the ill-fated union of Julius Caesar and Egypt's Cleopatra; the unstoppable rise of Christianity across the Roman Empire and the dramatic spread of Islam from Spain to Central Asia. The most potent human force on the planet came from combining faith and military power; both Christianity and Islam created new empires of 'the word and the sword'.

The Fly Agaric Mushroom [electronic resource]: Sacred Weeds

Siberian shamans used the fly agaric mushroom to access a world inhabited by small, elf-like beings, while Victorian artists often depicted elves sitting atop a fly agaric's cap. In this program, Oxford archaeology professor Andrew Sherratt compares the effects of fly agaric on volunteers to the effects described in traditional accounts. The experiment is attended by a psychiatrist interested in how the drug affects the brain, a neuropsychologist measuring spatial perception, and an ethnobotanist assessing the volunteers' subjective report of the experience. The group cannot agree: Does fly agaric distort our perception of the world, or does it allow a glimpse of a different reality? Part of the series Sacred Weeds.

The Devil We Know [electronic resource]: An Objective Look at the Prince of Darkness

Where does the familiar image of Satan come from? Does it predate the writing of the Bible? Or did the Devil's persona develop after the New Testament and organized Christianity appeared? This absorbing documentary sheds new light on the Prince of Darkness by examining his manifestations in various religious traditions, in literature and the arts, and in our collective psychology. Experts in theology, history, and culture share their knowledge of Satan's evolution through the centuries, discussing ancient Hebrew scriptures and apocryphal narratives, the influence of pagan imagery (such as horns and a pitchfork) on medieval concepts of the Devil, and the development of the Catholic rites of exorcism. Other topics include cinematic portrayals of demons and devils, the interplay between [...]

In the Beginning God Created Heaven and Earth [electronic resource]: Crossroads of Faith and Science

Will the battle between creationism and scientific purism ever be resolved? In search of a more nuanced and illuminating dialogue, this film explores the views of free thinkers around the world who balance their spiritual sensibilities with genuine scientific curiosity. Conversations focus on the origins of the cosmos, living things, and the human species. Researchers, intellectuals, and religious leaders in France, Germany, and Turkey share their interpretations of biblical and Quranic passages, pointing out rarely discussed echoes of scientific concepts and explaining why faith and factual evidence don't necessarily cancel each other out. The program also takes viewers through a colorful chronology of the three major monotheistic religions, looking at historical periods in which th [...]

Handmaids of the Gods [electronic resource]

In this program, Bettany Hughes explores the lost era of the priestess as she explains the primacy of women in classical religion and in early Christianity. Visiting the Acropolis and other key sites, Hughes describes aspects of Aphrodite that go beyond gentle love goddess and discovers that Sappho may have been a priestess as well as a poet. She also discusses ancient Rome, where the fate of the world was believed to lie in the hands of six sacred virgins, and learns the truth about the centuries of Christian doctrine that forbid women to become priests.

War of the Words [electronic resource]

Was the period known as the Dark Ages in fact a golden age for women in religion? In this program, Bettany Hughes profiles some powerful medieval women and shows how religion, and the written word, was vital to their authority. Hughes introduces the influential Theodora I, empress of Christian Byzantium; Muhammad's wives Khadija, the first convert to Islam, and Aisha, whose words are still read by millions of Muslims; Wu Zetian, promoter of Buddhism and China's only female ruler; and St. Hilda, who presided over the crucial Synod of Whitby.

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