Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This ambitious cable TV documentary miniseries used the Bible and other written historical sources as a starting-off point for a brand-new exploration of the life and times of Jesus Christ. A team of archaeologists sought out verification of the words of the Scripture by excavating the area in and around the Holy Land, while a group of historians pored through ancient manuscripts and cross-referenced the results. Though some more pious observers feared that the series was a debunking exercise, at no time did anyone involved in the series deny the existence of Jesus or his influence on modern civilization. However, certain fascinating theories, backed up by the expert's findings, were promoted, among them the notion that the Bethlehem in which Christ was born may have been a smaller town with the same name as the more famous Bethlehem, one closer to the home turf of Mary and Joseph. Other speculations: The Last Supper might have been an invention of the early church, tied in with an existing Easter ceremony, and the Crucifixion could well have taken place some distance from the Rock of Calvary. Also seen were new and occasionally contradictory theories concerning the "lost" years between Jesus' childhood and his emergence as the spiritual head of a new religious movement. Individual episode titles in the four-part series included "The Lost Youth of Jesus," "From Galilee to Jerusalem," "The Way of the Cross," and "The Mysteries of Golgotha." In the Footsteps of Jesus was telecast by the History Channel from April 15 to 18, 2003.