In the search for the meaning of humankind's purpose on earth,
documentaries have investigated the first Christian millennium,
considered the history of Jesus and other biblical figures, and
explored the early Christian church.
Now, a fascinating new documentary called "Christianity: The
Second Millennium" (A&E, Dec. 17 and 18, 8-10 p.m.) cruises through
the second thousand years since Jesus' time in an all-too-brief
So eventful was the past 1,000 years of Christendom that only the
most politically and socially influential movements can be
described in the film.
From the "reforms" of Pope Gregory VII (which included insistence
on the celibacy of priests) to the Inquisition to the Protestant
Reformation to liberation theology, it's been a busy millennium.
Many important movements and breakout theological visions were
left out entirely because of time constraints. And it's a shame
that almost all of the great female religious figures were
excluded. True, most political and religious structures are
predominantly male, but women have had a powerful influence, as so
much new scholarship details.
Subject for a future film, perhaps?
Still, the ambitious two-part series includes plenty of
information to assimilate. The significant changes in theology take
a back seat to the sweep of historical movements here - but there's
enough of theological evolution to encourage viewers to seek out
In a recent interview with series director Bram Roos, he
explained the thinking behind his absorbing new effort.
"A couple of years ago we did the rise of Christianity, the first
1,000 years," says Mr. Roos, whose production company, FilmRoos
Inc., has made dozens of documentaries about the Bible and other
"That project was generated internally at A&E. After doing the
first film, we felt very strongly we should complete it and do the
second thousand years - and A&E OK'd it."
Among his films are a 50-hour series called "Mysteries of the
Bible," and history stories for A&E including "Ancient Mysteries,"
with Leonard Nimoy.
"We have a general interest in historical programming, but we're
particularly interested in historical programming about the human
journey," Roos says. "That is our underlying reason for making films
about religion - it is mankind's search for meaning and