Shawna Atteberry

Baker, Writer, Teacher

DVD Review: Saving Jesus Redux, Home Edition

Saving Jesus Redux, Home Edition
Living the Questions, 2010
2 DVDS (12 30 minute sessions)

How do we tell our world about Jesus in language that 21st century Americans understand? How do we strip off all of the cultural baggage that Jesus Christ has acquired over 1,700 years of Imperialist Christendom and 200 years of American exceptionalism and hubris? How do we get back to the Jesus of the Bible to interpret him to our lives and time? These are the questions that Saving Jesus Redux explore and help their viewers to start answering. The DVD states that “Saving Jesus Redux Home Edition is a 12-episode video exploration of a credible Jesus for the 21st Century. Join 25 experts for a conversation around the relevance of Jesus for today.” The experts include Amy-Jill Levine, Diana Butler Bass, Helen Prejean, Brian McLaren, John Dominic Crossan, Matthew Fox, Rita Nakashima Brock, Minerva G. CarcaƱo, and Walter Brueggemann.

The sessions are:

  1. Jesus Through the Ages
  2. Who Was Jesus?
  3. What Can We Know About Jesus (and How)?
  4. The World Into Which Jesus Was Born
  5. Jesus’ Birth: Incarnation
  6. Teachings of Jesus: Wisdom Tradition
  7. Jesus’ Program: The Kingdom of God
  8. Jesus’ Ministry of Compassion
  9. Who Killed Jesus?
  10. The Atonement
  11. The Resurrection of Christ
  12. Why Jesus Is Worth Saving

Each session begins with young hosts introducing the session and asking relevant questions on why each session is relevant for today. They give a transition from the questions to the introduction given by the scholars. Each session is conversational, and the hosts do a good job of connecting the viewer to the subject of each session. The scholars’ remarks are a good mix of lecture and the scholars speaking within a group. The art, maps, photos, and other visuals help place the material the scholars are talking about in its historical, religious, and sociological context. Each issue discussed is examined from many different angles and points of view, so that the viewer receives a good grasp of the different nuances of each subject. The series doesn’t gloss over conflicts in interpretation and theology, leaving the viewer with good questions to ask to help them think through the issues and theology themselves. The scholars do a very good job of explaining Roman history, biblical study, and theology in language that the typical layperson understands.

Each session ends with more questions than it began with, which was one of the reasons I really liked this DVD set. Each session ends by asking how do we make the Bible and faith our own, and how do we make it relevant for our world. This study does a really good job of asking questions that will help the viewer to think about how living Christlike looks in the world today. It acknowledges that there are no easy answers because faith in Christ is a lived faith as we live out the teachings of Jesus in our daily lives.

There are also some powerful stories interspersed with the study of each session. One of the most powerful personal stories is told by Amy-Jill Levine in Session 9: Who Killed Jesus? Dr. Levine is a Jew, and she told of growing up in a Jewish/Catholic neighborhood where she went to synagogue with her family on Saturday and Mass with her friends on Sunday. After a priest made the remark that the Jews killed Jesus, Levine began her own study of that claim that led to a life-long pursuit of the study of the New Testament and teaching Christians the historical (i.e. Jewish) context of the New Testament. She ends by saying that her study of the New Testament has made her a better Jew.

Saving Jesus Redux is a good mix of stories, study, theology, and personal testimony trying to answer the eternal question Jesus asked his disciples over 2,000 years ago: “Who do you say I am?” This study encourages us to ask that question for today: Who do we say Jesus is? Then it tells us that however we answer that question must be lived out on the world. I would recommend it for both personal study, Sunday school and small group study.

(I received a free copy of the DVD set agreeing to post a review.)