“The crucifixion was a crushing blow to these Messianic hopes,” continues Rotondi. “Messiah explores how early Christians came to understand these hopes in new ways, and see they weren’t dashed after all.”
The series begins with Moses’ showdown with Pharaoh.
It continues through the rise and fall of David’s kingdom, the calling of the apostles, the miraculous spread of the Church, the Great Persecution under Diocletian and the divine intervention that brought it to a close.
Defilippis narrates episodes from nearly two dozen locations. These include sweeping views of the Judean desert as seen from the mountain fortress Masada; a sloping hillside on Lake Galilee, where Jesus preached and gave the Sermon on the Mount; the Western Wall, the last vestige of the Second Temple; and the Upper Room, where the Last Supper was held and the Church was born.
Defilippis’ background as a Shakespearean actor is evident. His expressive diction and gestures, delivered from such historically and spiritually important locations, evoke the drama of ancient events. In every scene, he captures the attention of viewers and holds it — whether recounting familiar stories such as David and Goliath, or less familiar ones like Sennacherib and Hezekiah.
Joining Defilippis in Messiah are five experts, in Scripture (Gail Buckley Barringer, Dr. Mary Healy), history (Phillip Campbell), spirituality (Fr. John O’Brien, SJ), and Judaism (Roy Schoeman). Thirteen voice actors round out the cast.
Messiah‘s experts make for fast-paced, fascinating episodes
The experts often speak for over a minute, going well beyond typical sound bite length to add fascinating insights and asides to Defilippis’s narration.
The fast-changing mix of hosts, experts, and voice actors makes for a brisk pace and absorbing presentation, even when Messiah recounts complex histories or tackles heady theological points. Part bible study, part travelogue, part art survey course, Messiah is an exploration of the rise of Christianity viewers of every background will not soon forget.
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