FRONTLINE “From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians”
"From Jesus to Christ" (Part-1 & 2) airs Tuesday, December
18th at 8:30pm and (Part-3 & 4) Tuesday, December 25th at 9:00pm on WTVP-HD.
– Award-Winning Documentary Explores the Life of Jesus and the Movement That Transformed the Roman Empire –
In the Roman province of Judea, around the fourth year of the rule of Pontius Pilate, a man was
led outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem to his execution.
The product of a suburban village, who nevertheless had been exposed to the cosmopolitan life of
Roman cities, Jesus of Nazareth grew up in a hotbed of radicalism and political activism, eventually becoming
a preacher. His message was characterized by simple metaphor and targeted at an agrarian populace. To the
authorities, however, he was a politically dangerous social reformer whose message about the coming of the
“Kingdom of God” was a threat to the peace of Rome. Yet it was his death that would become one of the most
important events in human history.
presents the award-winning documentary
“From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians,”
(Part-1 & 2)Tuesdays, December 18th, 8:30-10:30 p.m. and (Part-3 & 4) Christmas Night, December 25th, 9:00-11:00 p.m. on WTVP-HD.
Drawing upon sometimes controversial historical evidence and interviews with leading New Testament scholars, the
four-hour documentary explores the life of Jesus and the movement he started, challenging familiar assumptions
and conventional notions about the origins of Christianity.
“From Jesus to Christ” traces Jesus’ life, focusing on the events that occurred after his
death as his early followers created a major movement that would transform the Roman Empire in just 300 years.
“FRONTLINE presents the real story of the rise of Christianity, challenging and
upsetting conventional ideas,” said FRONTLINE executive producer David Fanning. “It is not a story of
a golden age of consensus, but a story of people in conflict — wrestling with Judaism, confronting the
authority of the empire, and struggling among themselves to understand Jesus’ message about the coming of
“Pax Romana” (12/18, 8:30):
“From Jesus to Christ” begins by tracing the life of Jesus of Nazareth, exploring the message that
helped his ministry grow and the events that led to his crucifixion around 30 C.E. (“of the common era”).
Born in the reign of Emperor Augustus during the Pax Romana — the Roman Peace — Jesus was a subject of the
Roman Empire. This first hour of “From Jesus to Christ” looks at how scholars and archaeologists
have pieced together a new portrait of where Jesus was born, how he lived and who he was.
“A Light to the Nations” (12/18, 9:30):
The second hour turns from the life of Jesus to the period immediately following his death, examining
the rise of Christianity and concluding with the First Revolt — the bloody and violent siege of Jerusalem
and the beginnings of a rift between Christianity and Judaism. “A Light to the Nations” explores new
evidence suggesting that the diversity in language and culture of Jesus’ early followers caused them to
interpret his teachings in many different ways. This hour also examines the key role of the apostle Paul in
forming the “language” of Christianity.
“Let the Reader Understand” (12/25, 9:00):
The third hour of “From Jesus to Christ” examines the period after the First Revolt, tracing the
development and impact of the Gospels and exploring the increasingly hostile relationship between the
Christians and the Jews. The hour concludes with another bloody Jewish war against Rome — the Second
“Kingdoms in Conflict” (12/25, 10:00): The final hour of “From Jesus to
Christ” documents the extraordinary events of the second and third centuries, when Christianity grew
from a small Jewish sect to an official religion of the Roman Empire. From the persecution and brutal
execution of Christians to the eventual acceptance and support for Christianity by Emperor Constantine,
“Kingdoms in Conflict” traces this dramatic evolution — one that would see the cross transformed
into a symbol of triumph and Jesus of Nazareth become Jesus Christ.
For more on this program, go to
to explore further research and discoveries concerning Jesus’ life and the rise of Christianity. Highlights
of the website include:
An online forum where scholars take stock of the newest discoveries and address the
central ideas governing the debate in contemporary New Testament scholarship.
An in-depth exploration of key biblical archaeological discoveries, including the Dead
Sea Scrolls, the Christian catacombs in Rome, and the writings found at Nag Hammadi.
A multilayered interactive map of Palestine and the Roman Empire laying out the story of
Jesus and the early Christians, the development of the Roman Empire, the key archaeological sites, and
reconstructing the journeys of Paul and his followers through Asia Minor.
Annotated transcripts of the interviews with scholars who are featured in the documentary,
and much more.
“From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians” was produced by Marilyn Mellowes and
directed by William Cran. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston. Funding for FRONTLINE is
provided through the support of PBS viewers. Additional funding for “From Jesus to Christ” was
provided by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH
Educational Foundation. The executive producer for FRONTLINE is David Fanning.
For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of
at (309) 495-0591 or email@example.com