In Search Of Historic Jesus

Watch In Search Of Historic Jesus

  • G
  • 1979
  • 1 hr 32 min
  • 3.8  (134)

In Search of Historic Jesus is a 1979 film that blends both documentary and dramatic filmmaking, aiming to provide an exploration into the life and times of one of history’s most influential figures, Jesus of Nazareth. Narratively structured as a quest for truth, the film examines the canonical gospels, historical records, and artifacts related to Jesus to paint a portrait of the man behind the theological icon.

The film stars John Rubinstein in the central role of Jesus, with supporting performances by John Anderson and Nehemiah Persoff. Their combined talents contribute to a storytelling experience that seeks to humanize the figure of Jesus, delving into his teachings, his interactions with followers and skeptics alike, and the sociopolitical context of the time.

Directed thoughtfully by Henning Schellerup, In Search of Historic Jesus engages with its subject matter from a historical perspective, focusing on Jesus as a man whose life and teachings had a profound impact but steering clear of overtly religious or doctrinal interpretations. This approach allows the film to function both as an educational resource and as a contemplative exploration, inviting audience members of different faiths and beliefs to engage with the content.

The narrative commences by setting the scene of the ancient Middle East during the first century CE. Viewers are introduced to the contentious political atmosphere of the region under Roman occupation, an integral backdrop for understanding the social dynamics of the era. This historical context provides significant insight into the challenges Jesus would have faced in delivering his radical message of love, compassion, and spiritual enlightenment.

John Rubinstein’s portrayal of Jesus emphasizes the calm and compassionate demeanor traditionally associated with the figure, yet also allows for moments of human emotion and passion as he confronts the issues of his day. Rubinstein's performance seeks to capture the essence of Jesus’s character as recorded in various texts, highlighting his charisma and the profound effect it had on those he met.

Supporting characters play key roles in this historical tableau, representing the diverse array of individuals who would have interacted with Jesus. John Anderson’s performance lends gravitas to the film, potentially embodying a figure of authority and tradition, while Nehemiah Persoff's work likely adds another layer of depth to the cast, possibly infusing the narrative with alternate perspectives on Jesus's life and teachings.

In Search of Historic Jesus is not merely content with portraying biblical events, but rather attempts to place them within their historical and archaeological context. The film features discussions with experts, and leverages artifacts and records from the period to substantiate and enrich the story being told. The thriller aspects of the “search” involve sifting through evidence and juxtaposing established narrative history with new insights derived from contemporary scholarship of the late 70s.

The dramatic sections of the film are interwoven with documentary-style segments, giving viewers a blend of narrative drama and informative content that aims to stimulate both the heart and the mind. In doing so, the film addresses various questions surrounding Jesus's life, including the veracity of the miracles attributed to him, his familial relationships, his interactions with political and religious authorities, and the legacy of his teachings.

Given that the movie was released in 1979, it should be noted that it reflects the state of biblical and historical scholarship of its time. Advances in archaeology, textual criticism, and historical research in the years since have contributed to an evolving understanding of the historical Jesus. Thus, the film serves as a snapshot of the academic and cultural interest in Jesus's historicity as viewed through the lens of the late 20th century.

In Search of Historic Jesus is a thought-provoking addition to the genre of religious and historical films. It walks a delicate line between storytelling and scholarship, between the known and the mysterious. The movie invites viewers to consider the profound influence of Jesus not just as a religious icon but as a historical figure—an individual whose life has been subject to analysis, interpretation, and reverence through the centuries, and whose story continues to be told and retold in myriad forms. The film is a contribution to the legacy of Jesus, offering a cinematic pilgrimage into the past in the hope of uncovering a better understanding of a man who, regardless of individual belief, changed the course of human history.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 32 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    3.8  (134)