Thrill of Hope: the Christmas Story in Word and Art – An Advent Study presented by the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Moreshouse Education Resources.

This 50-minute DVD-based study presents the familiar story of Christmas as told in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each scripture passage is illustrated and interpreted in the stunning artwork of John August Swanson along with commentary by some of America’s premier biblical scholars, names such as Dr. Thomas A. Long, Dr. Michael Joseph Brown, Dr. Carol A. Newsom and more.

Hugh’s comments:

I found this to be a superb resource. I was not surprised, as Candler is a highly reputed institution, and the scholars who share in the video are among the top on the continent.

I think it would be an excellent resource for an adult Advent-Christmas study group (it takes us from the beginning of Advent through to Epiphany). The use of art creates an imaginative doorway into the narratives and the questions in the guide encourage an interactive dynamic. I found the questions provocative and helping to build bridges between the stories and contemporary life.

I might be tempted to try it with a group of senior teens. It would be helpful if they had some biblical background though.

I find the video both informative and spiritually nourishing, sort of uniting head and heart.

The vibrancy of the art (colourful and full of symbolism)suggests a celebrative approach to the Season as a whole.

I did find the continuous background music annoying, especially when scholars are speaking. That’s just a personal bias…it seems so often in religious documentaries we think we have to have sacred music in the background for some reason. Mind you, it’s good music. There’s just too much of it in my opinion.

All in all, it’s a valuable resource. I really can’t think of one that treats these stories any better. It immerses one in the beauty of Swanson’s art and the beauty of the Scriptural texts. That’s a study group I’d like to attend.