Secrets of Christianity (Decoding the Ancients)

6 x 1 hour • Documentary Series • Produced in association with: History Television Canada and The History Channel US • Production year: 2010

Secrets of Christianity/Decoding the Ancients takes the official story of the evolution of Christianity, and turns it on its head.

Each episode is an investigative quest, an adventure in which three time Emmy–award winning journalist Simcha Jacobovici solves ancient mysteries and finds that what really happened is often not what we have been led to believe.

Filmed in HD in spectacular locations including Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Europe and Turkey, Secrets of Christianity/Decoding the Ancients brings the techniques of investigative journalism to history, with Jacobovici connecting the dots of many academic and scientific disciplines to present a new take on the past. The series uncovers alternate truths that have either eluded us, or been kept from us – until now.

Episode 1 - Nails of the Cross
In 1990, the tomb of the High Priest Caiaphas - who, according to the Gospels, sent Jesus to the cross - was unearthed in Jerusalem. Along with other artifacts, two Roman nails were recorded in the official excavation report! The nails disappeared, and the tomb has literally been covered up. A dramatic investigation ensues. The goal is to find the missing artifacts and re-enter the tomb. Expect shocking revelations along the way.

Episode 2 - The Messiah Before Jesus
He lived in ancient Israel, he was called the “Good Shepherd”, he was killed by the Romans and he rose in three days. But he’s not Jesus! Shockingly, an ancient stone tablet that has emerged from the Jordanian antiquities market seems to suggest that there was a dying and rising Messiah before Jesus.

Episode 3 - Vesuvius & The Fear of God
It is commonly assumed that the Apostles Peter and Paul spread Christianity across the planet, turning a tiny religious sect into the world’s largest religion. Is this possible? Can two people really have had such global influence?

Long ignored archaeological evidence - found beneath the ashes of Pompeii and Herculaneum - seems to suggest that what put the fear of God into pagan Romans was not Jesus, Peter or Paul. It now seems that the event most responsible for Christianity’s conquest of the Roman Empire was the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Episode 4 - The Lost Voyage of Jesus
There is a quaint perception that Jesus spent his entire ministry - prior to going to Jerusalem where he was crucified – in northern Israel, walking along the shores of a tiny fresh water lake called the “Sea of Galilee”. But is this historical reality or theological fantasy?

It is explicitly stated in the Gospels that Jesus undertook an adventurous sea journey to a place called “the land of the Gadarenes”. Where is this place? Why did Jesus go there? And why has this story been covered up for over two millennia?

Episode 5 - Selling Christianity
History tells us that the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the 4th century. But did Christianity conquer Rome or did pagan Rome conquer Christianity?

Archaeology in Rome and Istanbul, reveals that the Emperor had the instincts of a marketing genius. Strategically combining many deities, Constantine “sold” Christ as an amalgamation of sun gods -Mithras, for example, whose birthday was on December 25th. By force of arms, the new religion suppressed the original Jesus movement and the hundreds of Christian alternatives that had sprouted around it. Constantine’s Christianity is still the world’s most successful brand.

Episode 6 - The Roman Army’s Secret Christians
Christianity is thought of as a religion of peace. But this episode reveals something different. The investigation begins with a mysterious symbol found engraved on an ancient skull. The film then discovers the same symbol on the walls of Roman army barracks and on pillars of underground churches. From Pompeii to the farthest reaches of the Empire, this episode reveals how Christianity secretly thrived within the very army that was supposed to suppress it.

Series Producer & Director: Simcha Jacobovici
Executive Producers: Simcha Jacobovici and Felix Golubev

Award highlights:

  • Gold Remi Awards, TV Series - Documentary, Houston International Film Festival
  • Silver World Medal, Religious Programs Category, New York Festivals
  • Official selection 9th Annual Archaeological Film Festival, Brussels