Did you know Hugh Bonneville was a theological scholar? Me neither! The Downton Abbey star graduated in theology from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Now he’ll be returning to public television as the host of an examination of the events leading up to the execution of Jesus of Nazareth by the Roman government. The program is scheduled to air on March 1, and will be syndicated by American Public Television.
In this program, Bonneville travels to Jerusalem to examine the events leading up to the death of Jesus of Nazareth. The documentary is framed as a high-stakes political thriller, a clock counting down each critical moment from Palm Sunday to Good Friday.
Whatever your stance on what is fact and what is myth in the widely accepted story of a popular evangelist who ran afoul of the Roman Empire and was crucified, there’s no question that first-century Jerusalem was a hotbed of social, religious and political agitation. Bonneville investigates this complex scene with the help of notable academics and spiritual leaders, with he and his guides utilizing ancient artifacts, Gospel texts, historical analysis and modern insight to consider the legacies of leading figures including Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas and Judas Iscariot. And some long-held assumptions about this episode (some of which set the scene for centuries of anti-Semitism) are challenged head on.
Contributors will include Prof. Helen Bond (University of Edinburgh); Prof. Paula Fredriksen (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), author of From Jesus to Christ; Dr. Zuleika Rodgers (Trinity College, Dublin); Prof. Ronny Reich (Hebrew University, Jerusalem); Amit Re’em (Israeli Institute of Archaeology); Fr. Gregory Tatum OP (École Biblique, Jerusalem) and Amos Oz, the acclaimed Israeli author of Judas.
This program promises to be an engaging and layered contemplation of questions that have existed for over 2000 years.