In less than four centuries, the little-known cult of Jesus rises from a disparate collection of beliefs that do not even go by the name of Christianity into a dynamic, coherent force that dominates the mighty Roman Empire. This extraordinary story is an epic human drama filled with suspense, political intrigue, brutal religious persecution, and sheer luck. In a landmark three-part series, Jesus: Rise to Power, Dr. Michael Scott sets outs across the historic landscapes of the ancient world to discover how and why Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire.
First up at 8P is Jesus: Rise to Power: Messiahs: In his quest to find out about the rise of Christianity within the Roman Empire, Dr. Michael Scott tackles the birth of the Christian religion. The Romans executed Jewish Messiah Jesus of Nazareth in the most humiliating way they could. In a world where people are defined by the manner of their death, Jesus should have been branded a failure and rejected. But he is not. Jesus’ crucifixion becomes one of the defining moments in Christianity and he is heralded as the Messiah. Michael’s quest uncovers how the Christian message spread and grew through Roman expertise and technology, how it became more visible and therefore more vulnerable to attack by the Roman authorities, and how it organized itself and broke away from its Jewish roots.
Video: The the only existing artifact that proves Crucifixion is analyzed by two archaeologists in Israel:
Then, at 9P on Jesus: Rise to Power: Martyrs: Roman authorities become increasingly intolerant as Christians refuse to sacrifice to the State’s pagan Gods. With their strange, secret and mysterious practices like communion, Christians are condemned as cannibals and deviants. And yet Romans are reluctant to put Christians to death. In an act of defiance at the Arena in Carthage, the martyr Perpetua assists her executioner by putting the sword to her own throat. Rome’s attempt to stamp out Christianity ends up inspiring it and ultimately helping it develop into a worldwide political and religious force.
Video: A young woman who refuses to conform to Roman rules becomes a saint for her permanent sacrifice:
Last up at 10P is Jesus: Rise to Power Christians: After nearly three centuries, Jesus’ followers have endured a succession of persecutions, but none as severe as Diocletian’s Great Persecution. Although many Christians die, once again Christianity pulls through, this time with an organized hierarchy bound together by the struggle to survive. It has become the Church. Now Emperor Constantine, recognizing its indomitable spirit—and with his enemies still worshipping pagan Gods—adopts Christianity, moves the capital from Rome to Constantinople and begins to Christianize his empire. Julian, after him, attempts to disempower Christians, but the bond between Church and State is now irreversible. In 381 AD, Theodosius outlaws paganism and proclaims Christianity the one and only legal religion. The faith has evolved from the crucifixion of Jesus into a religious and political force, permanently woven into the fabric of the Roman Empire.
Video: Christians suffer consequences when they refuse to make sacrifices to Roman Gods:
Don’t miss the three-hour event of Jesus: Rise to Power tonight starting at 8P.