"Spreading the Christian Gospel in the First and Second Centuries"
What You Need To Know:
VICTOR presents viewers with great historical information. It’s extremely captivating and even moving, especially when the narrator, Professor Gornold-Smith, tells how God-fearing Jews from Libya and many other nations heard Peter preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian conversion of many people from Libya helped Paul spread the Gospel to the Gentiles and led to Pope Victor’s efforts to spread Christianity by overseeing the translation of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children due to some references to promiscuity and violence in VICTOR.
LOST LEGACY RECLAIMED: THE HERITAGE PROJECT is an eight-part documentary series on early church history. VICTOR is an exploration of the early Christian Church in Cyrene [“Sigh-Ree-Knee”], in the North African area called Libya, and in Rome from 189 to 199 A.D. Both are seen through the life of Victor, the Libyan bishop of Cyrene who became the 13th Pope in Rome.
Professor Christopher Gornold-Smith narrates the episode. He starts by giving a historical background of the culture in Libya before Christ. The Cyrenians mainly worship Greek gods, but have no issues with public worship to Roman gods or burning incense in honor of the Emperor’s “birth spirit.” The city became enthralled with the Greek god Apollo. Apollo is associated as the god of music, poetry and sunlight. He’s also associated with sexual immorality. In fact, he smiles on promiscuity.
The Cyrenians feel favored. Committed to a licentious lifestyle, they discover a particular tree plant that induces abortions. As a result, promiscuity became rampant there, but the Jews living there separated themselves from that behavior. They conduct business and keep to themselves. Every year, some of them travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.
While Jesus is being tried and crucified in Jerusalem, a Jewish man from Cyrene named Simon takes his two sons, Rufus and Alexander. Being a Jew, Simon is careful about cleansing before he worships in the temple. This cleansing prohibits Simon from being in contact with anything dead, or with blood. On the road to the Temple, he and his sons observe Jesus carrying the cross to Calvary. According to Mark 15:21, the Romans grab Simon from the crowd and force him to carry the cross, because Jesus is too weak.
Professor Gornold-Smith discusses this episode from Mark. Clearly, he says, Mark considered Simon an important eyewitness to Christ’s crucifixion. The Professor adds that Chapter Two of the Book of Acts, Verse 2:10, also reports that, in addition to many other “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven,” some Jewish pilgrims from Libya heard Peter proclaim the Gospel in Jerusalem on Pentecost. He notes that, after hearing Peter proclaim Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection in Acts 2:22-36, the God-fearing Jews “were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). “Repent and be baptized, Peter replies in Verses 38 and 39, “every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” About 3,000 people were converted after this, the author of Acts, Luke, says. Gornold-Smith adds that Luke later says in Acts 11:20 that some men from Cyrene went to Antioch, the populous city in Ancient Syria that’s now part of modern-day Turkey, and began to preach “the good news about the Lord Jesus” to the Non-Jewish people there. Could some of those men from Cyrene have been among the Libyans who heard Peter proclaim the Gospel.
As a result of the activities of these Christian converts from Libya, many of the Jews and Gentiles in Cyrene and other parts of Libya became Christians. Nearly 150 years later, Victor becomes Bishop of Cyrene. Eventually, he becomes the Bishop of Rome, Pope Victor I, and Professor Gornold-Smith discusses the four Emperors who reigned during Victor’s time as pope (two of them only served several months before being assassinated). The Professor also briefly relates the biography of Marcia, the mistress of Commodus, the first of these emperors. In 192 A.D., Marcia helps Pope Victor convince Commodus to free some Christians sentenced to work in the Sardinian mines.
Finally, the documentary discusses how Pope Victor had the Bible translated from Hebrew and Greek to Latin, so that it would be in a language more people could understand. Pope Victor’s reign was an important step forward in the spread of Christianity.
VICTOR presents viewers with some great historical information. It’s also extremely captivating and even moving, especially when the narrator, Professor Gornold-Smith, tells how God-fearing Jews from Libya and many other nations heard Peter preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian conversion of many people from Libya, starting with Simon’s encounter with Jesus in Mark 15:21, eventually helped Paul spread the Gospel to the Gentiles and led to Pope Victor’s efforts to spread Christianity by overseeing the translation of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children because of brief references to rampant sexual promiscuity among the people in an ancient city in Libya, references to the women there using a plant to abort their babies, and some references to violence, including scenes of a wounded Jesus carrying a bloody cross on the way to be crucified.