On April 5, 2004, the American television network ABC broadcast "Jesus and Paul - The Word and the Witness" - a three-hour prime time special in which Peter Jennings looked at the story of Jesus of Nazareth, Paul the Apostle and Christianity in its first decades.
CNN's Larry King interviewed Jennings about the program, and asked:
KING: All right, Peter, who was Paul? To the boy like myself who grows up Jewish, he's taught it was a man who was named Saul who was a fanatic. That's the way the Jews teach. They teach Christ as a great rabbi and Paul as some sort of guy way out there. Who was Paul?
JENNINGS: Well, Paul was a persecutor of the early Jesus movement. Paul was indeed Jewish. Everybody, of course, in this story is Jewish in the first century and Paul was indeed a persecutor of the fledgling Jewish movement.
And then, as the Bible has it, on the road to Damascus to further persecute the members of the early Christian movement, of the Jesus movement, he was blinded and heard God and became an absolute convert to Jesus' life and times and message, particularly to the idea that the embodiment of all this is the crucifixion and the resurrection and he became one of the great apostles of the Jesus movement.
And what makes Paul really interesting, at least to me, I want to say very quickly I'm a reporter. I'm not a scholar and we set out to find out what we could learn about Paul in the first century and we're helped immeasurably by his writings because after Jesus, you know, the New Testament of the Bible is just hugely about Paul.
He is the person who really carried Jesus' message, Jesus the Son of God's message, the kingdom of heaven on earth to the non-Jewish community and he had a great -- there was a great rupture in the Jewish community between him and the other apostles in Jerusalem as a result of this.
But I think it's fair to say, though scholars will argue with each other about everything, I think it's fair to say that without Paul carrying the message, first around the shores of the Mediterranean and then on beyond that to the early communities that were being established, we might not have Christianity as we practice it today.
And we understand through Paul's letters, I think, and Paul's teachings and his communication with all of these communities how different early Christianity in the first century was.
And so, he's really, I've heard him called more than once as the great salesman of Christianity. I've heard him called a lot of other things as well but he clearly, without Paul I think we probably wouldn't have Christianity today as we know it.
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