I may never make it to the Holy Land myself. With eight kids still at home, it could be years before we are able to afford an overseas trip, or be able to leave kids to take one. With that truth in mind, I am a sucker for documentaries about those areas, especially those that are actually coming from a Christian viewpoint. When FishFlix.com was offered for a Crew review, I begged to be able to review Exploring Ephesus. Even though I was willing to review educational Christian DVDs for the kids, I was THRILLED that I actually received the DVD of Exploring Ephesus for myself.
My husband and I watched Exploring Ephesus in the living room one Sunday afternoon. It was completely family-safe, though it didn't hold the interest of most of our kids. They came and went, watching portions, but not focusing on it fully. Unfortunately, they also provided a lot of distractions as were trying to watch it. I re-watched Exploring Ephesus on my own, minus the kid-interruptions, and I noticed several new things I'd missed the first time. It really is incredibly full of information, culture, and history.
Exploring Ephesus takes its time showing you the remains of Ephesus and several other places. It doesn't rush through a fast-paced, overlapping, montage of images. Instead, Dr. Mark Wilson and Dr. Andy Jackson literally walk you through the sites, explaining the purpose of different sites, as well as the culture and religion of the area in the Apostle Paul's time. When they are done talking about a location, the music plays softly as the camera pans slowly over the area, allowing you to fully absorb the atmosphere.
The movie includes a boat trip to Patmos, where the Apostle John was exiled and living in a cave. John spent many years serving in Ephesus, which is why it's included in this documentary. It was here on Patmos that John received his vision that is written in the Book of Revelation. At this location, Dr. Mark and Dr. Andy discuss the persecution of the early Christian church and the dispersion of the early Christians. This section could also be included in a Bible study of Revelations.
I love the maps explaining how the different locations fit in with the New Testament and Paul's missionary journeys. Dr. Mark and Dr. Andy also travel briefly to Laodicea to talk about the spread of the Christian faith through Asia, as well as showing us modern day Smyrna at the start of the movie. It helps to have a vision of modern day Turkey, as well as the historical sites.
Exploring Ephesus is 58 minutes long, and would make an excellent introduction to an adult or teen Bible study on Ephesians or the Pauline Epistles. Not only does it let you see Ephesus and Biblical Asia, but it is just full of information regarding the history of the early Christian church! I learned a lot about Ephesus and the unrest that was caused by the spread of Christianity in this pagan town. Even if you've read Acts 19 before, it seems so much more real (and scary) to hear them discuss the Artemis Riot while standing in the amphitheater.
I definitely recommend Exploring Ephesus for any teen or adult wanting a visual history of Ephesus and a greater understanding of the early Church, the spread of Christianity, and the letters of Paul and John. Although it won't necessarily hold the interest of younger children, it can be viewed as a family (or in a church) without worrying about the content at all. The camera-work is beautiful and the music is peaceful. I'm looking forward to viewing it again and again, with my teens, as we study church history.
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