Secret Lives of the Apostles: Review

Secret Lives of the Apostles

National Geographic Sunday, 23rd December 2012, 7pm

The Apostles, Jesus and God at Christmas time…what a drag. Who wants to hear about religion during the festive season. I would rather a war film or a comedy special of some sort. Wahoo! That’s what Christmas is about, not bleeding religion.

That’s probably what most people think when they see a documentary going by the name ‘Secret Lives of the Apostles’ and then they turn over to whatever dross is being touted by the BBC and ITV this year (Without even looking at the schedules, I predict it will be Downton Abbey and a Strictly Come Dancing special.)

That would be a mistake as ‘Secret Lives of the Apostles’ is a very interesting and thoughtful programme looking at the personalities and relationship of Jesus’s rag tag band of followers.

If you think about it, you will probably finds that you know very little about the men that have helped shaped not only the religious geography of the world you live in but also via the influence of the planets’s most popular book the socio-political infrastructure.

The structure of the show is fairly standard stuff; dramatic reconstructions of some of the important events like St. Pauls epiphany on the road to Damascus and the Crucifixion, cut up with shots of documents etc and some talking heads offering their opinion.

The talking heads are excellent and come from a selection of respected theologians and historians made up from Agnostics, Jews, straight up Christians(this is my catch all term for non-Catholic Christians no offense! ) and Catholics; who discuss the Apostles as well as the mechanics of how Christianity spread and became the movement it is today.

We also learn some nice incidental stuff as well. Like how a Crucifixion actually works, I always imagined it was a loss of blood coupled with exhaustion and starvation but apparently its more to do with a very slow asphyxiation. I also learnt that the word “excruciatingâ€? is derived from “crucifyâ€?, seems obvious now but it’s new to me.

The only thing that let the show down is the movie trailer voice of the main narrator, which makes the ‘Secret Lives of the Apostles’ sound a bit like ‘Jesus Christ the Action Movie’. However, the disclaimer on the review copy I watched said that this could well be changed by time of broadcast.

So if you want to break up your Christmas with something a bit more nutritious than the standard offerings, you could do a lot worse than taking a butchers at the ‘Secret Lives of the Apostles’