"THE STORY OF JESUS," distribtuted by Excel Entertainment, $24.98, 180 minutes
A first thought that may come to viewers' minds when they see the homely visage of a man who is supposed to be the Savior in "The Story of Jesus" video? Why, nothing more than the words of a passage found in the Book of Isaiah:
"...He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."
There is no doubt the individual chosen to play the role of someone prophesied to be mighty in many ways, outside of vanity, fits the description; he absolutely portrayed what it may look like to be "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" in this BBC production, distributed by Excel Entertainment. After all, Jesus Christ is the Anointed One due to his redeeming work for his children – not necessarily for what eyes saw of him centuries ago.
Though it can be argued the Savior, even in his mortal life, may have fit a description closer to Nephi's account of a smiling Lord, viewers of this drama-documentary hybrid won't be able to help but grin at the brilliant photography found throughout the film. It creates a magnificent aura to a secular view of the Savior's recorded ministry, death and resurrection as recorded in the Gospels.
Even Andrew Skinner, a Brigham Young University professor of ancient scripture, discusses the political pressure in the Roman world to put forth the viewpoint that the Jews were responsible for Christ's death. Granted, a special feature of the set gives Skinner the opportunity to firmly declare the lens through which he is viewing Jesus' life.
Skinner is joined by scholars from the likes of Yale, Cambridge and Oxford to discuss viewpoints of the Savior's day as established in recent archeological finds and historical documents. Those findings are discussed parallel to scriptural information about Christ, which is referenced throughout the film in interviews intercut with sequences portraying his life.
The secular discussion may cause viewers to adjust the lens through which they are processing the information. Beyond learning some fascinating truths about the cultural and political climate surrounding the Savior's mortal period, people of any religious persuasion will have the opportunity to strengthen their beliefs.
Rhett Wilkinson attends Utah State University, is a Capitol Hill intern and a co-founder and managing editor of Aggie BluePrint. A former intern for the Deseret News, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: wilklogan