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Searching for the Historical Jesus

Join historian, biblical scholar, and best-selling author Jean-Pierre Isbouts to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
Searching for the Historical Jesus is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 50.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from No Passport required Wonderful trip down memory lane, revisiting Israel. Interesting commentary drawing from multiple sources.
Date published: 2023-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course even solely from history perspective This is a great course/documentary on the historical Jesus and events surrounding him. As a non-christian, I greatly appreciate the course and have learnt a lot from it. Some people here in the comments just want to assume that if that same history matches the gospels, it automatically qualifies as an unreliable source. As a history major, I can confirm to you that this documentary has been made from a neutral perspective and solely relies on history.
Date published: 2023-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I found the videos amazing and the detail of the history of the 1st century very interesting. Mr. Isbouts presented very good lectures that were clear to understand.
Date published: 2023-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This was a great course for learning--so much Biblical as well as research done by the author. I really enjoyed the study---enhanced my understanding of Jesus's life.
Date published: 2023-07-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Misnamed series, not what I expected The visuals are stunning. That said, this is not a presentation of Jesus, the historical events of the time and place when he lived etc. using vetted historical sources. The primary source material is the gospels! Additionally, the presenter posits an underlying assumption that the fundamentals of Christian beliefs are true. This is religion, not history.
Date published: 2023-07-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Christian Apologetics, Not History Based on the title, I expected to see Jesus's life from a historian's perspective. In actuality, this series more closely resembles the fables and stories that were told by the nuns at a Catholic Grade School in the 40's and 50's. On the one hand, Isbouts does present a number of interesting hypotheses. The major problem is that the hypotheses are portrayed as known facts or at the very least as plausible scenarios. The bottom line is that this series is at best historical fiction and at worst Christian apologetics. The title is grossly misleading.
Date published: 2023-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Series All Christians should view this course. Very informative, interesting, and enlightening. Thanks for making this available. Really nails downs some foundational and important information. Thanks!
Date published: 2023-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb! I have watched the full course with two friends; all of us have a good to very good knowledge of the subject before starting. We were all mesmerized by the context that the good professor provided, noting that he identified what was factual and what was speculative when the latter qualification was required. I have MANY hundreds of courses; one of the reasons is because I have found the content and the presenters (as well as the company itself) to be of high quality. J.P. Isbouts is no exception; in fact, he has style of delivery that rivals the best of them. I was quite surprised to see another viewer say they found it 'smarmy' - everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that is the absolute last descriptor I would use for JPI's delivery which we found to be infectiously intriguing, comfortably at ease, and occasionally - whether deliberate or accidental - quite funny! The drone photography, the walk-abouts, the CGI, the in-studio shots were stunning, and the prof was always well turned out, with a passion for Ralph Lauren Polo striped shirts, in which he looked fit and relaxed. His cadence lends itself to running the course at 1.5 speed and still being very understandable, which meant that we could watch the entire course in an afternoon, even with stops for bio breaks and short discussions. Kudos to JPI for providing the missing context that lifts the Gospels and the Acts off the flat page and turning it into a fascinating three-dimensional view that is quite unforgettable. The New Testament will never be the same, thanks to JPI.
Date published: 2023-05-03
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Searching for the Historical Jesus takes you back two millennia to explore the history, context, and character of a humble carpenter who changed the world. Taught by Dr. Jean-Pierre Isbouts, a professor emeritus at Fielding Graduate University, these 15 thought-provoking episodes, filmed in the Holy Land, bring Jesus and his world to life with vivid detail, offering an excellent companion piece for anyone wrestling with history or with walking in faith.


Jean-Pierre Isbouts


Fielding Graduate University

Jean-Pierre Isbouts is a historian, biblical scholar, and best-selling National Geographic author. After earning his DLitt at Leiden University, he served as a member of the doctoral faculty at Fielding Graduate University for more than 15 years and now holds the title of Faculty Emeritus. He gained worldwide renown with his National Geographic book The Biblical World and also wrote Archaeology of the Bible, In the Footsteps of Jesus, and Young Jesus. His course The History and Archaeology of the Bible is one of Wondrium’s most popular.

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The Historical Jesus

01: The Historical Jesus

Begin your exploration by considering the diversity of Christianity today. With so many denominations around the world, what ties everyone together? What can a study of the historical figure of Jesus teach us? Let’s go back 2,000 years to meet the “historical Jesus” through historical and archaeological records.

23 min
Rome and Herod the Great

02: Rome and Herod the Great

To understand the life and times of Jesus, you must first understand the world of the Roman Empire. After surveying the big-picture story of Rome, Jean-Pierre zooms in on the historical circumstances of Galilee, which included onerous taxation, hungry citizens, and something of a police state under Herod.

20 min
Mary and Joseph in Galilee

03: Mary and Joseph in Galilee

What can we know about Joseph the Carpenter and the Virgin Mary? Continue your study of Galilee to see what the life of Jesus’s parents would have been like. In all probability, Joseph would have been a farmer, as well as a tradesman laboring on public works projects throughout the region.

18 min
The Birth of Jesus

04: The Birth of Jesus

Imagine what it would have been like to be a young woman having a child out of wedlock, at that time. Reflect on what Joseph and Mary may have thought about their circumstances, and then see how those circumstances evolved into the mystery of the Virgin Mary. Finally, consider how Jesus’s birth lines up with biblical prophecies.

21 min
Growing Up in Galilee

05: Growing Up in Galilee

The New Testament Gospels say little about Jesus’s upbringing, but a look at the political world offers clues as to what his childhood may have been like. As you will learn here, the kingdom of Judea suffered revolts and civil wars after King Herod’s death. Get to know the fervor and zealotry of the times.

20 min
Rabbi Jesus

06: Rabbi Jesus

At some point, we know Jesus became a rabbi, but where did he get his education? Leaning on evidence from history recorded in the Jewish Mishnah, Jean-Pierre speculates about the philosophies Jesus may have studied, his possible relationship with his family, and the influence of the Greco-Roman world on Galilee.

22 min
John the Baptist in the Jordan

07: John the Baptist in the Jordan

The political fervor of the era helps explain the story of John the Baptist, a preacher who represented a threat to the power structure. Examine the administration of Pontius Pilate, the way tax collectors tapped into the Temple treasury, and the rebellious message of John the Baptist.

22 min
The Ministry Begins

08: The Ministry Begins

After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus began his ministry in earnest. Using the words of the Gospels, as well as the histories of Josephus, you will compare Jesus’s message with the apocalyptic screeds of John the Baptist. See what Jesus’s ministry looked like, from traveling around Galilee to performing exorcisms and miracles.

20 min
In the Kingdom of God

09: In the Kingdom of God

Perhaps the apex of Jesus’s ministry is the Sermon on the Mount. Explicating this great sermon offers insight into the way Jesus, possibly, was working to reform Judaism through a grassroots movement. Trace the phases of his ministry, from roaming near Capernaum to sailing around the Sea of Galilee.

20 min
The Mystery of the Miracles

10: The Mystery of the Miracles

Continue your exploration of Jesus’s ministry with a deep dive into his miracles. After reviewing how the miracles align Jesus with Hebrew Bible prophets such as Elisha, you will reflect on the sick, malnourished world of Galilee in the first century. Consider a few scientific explanations for Jesus’s supernatural acts.

22 min
The Conspiracy against Jesus

11: The Conspiracy against Jesus

It is unclear from the Gospels whether there was a true conspiracy against Jesus, or whether he was a victim of unfortunate events. To tackle this issue, Jean-Pierre introduces you to the Sadducees; the Pharisees; the legal scribes; and Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee. See how they each would have viewed Jesus—and what made Jesus seem dangerous to them.

23 min
The Road to Jerusalem

12: The Road to Jerusalem

Round out your study of Jesus’s ministry by following him south to Jerusalem. By then, he had widened his preaching to include gentiles, and he perhaps hoped to reach a large audience in Jerusalem. What he found, however, was a Temple corrupted by sacrifices and money changers.

23 min
The Arrest and Trial

13: The Arrest and Trial

From the Last Supper to the meeting with the high priest Caiaphas to the trial under Pontius Pilate, follow Jesus through his last days at key locations in Jerusalem. Reflect on the challenge of authorship of the Gospels. Who wrote them? Who were they writing for? What biases might they have introduced into the story?

22 min
The Jesus Movement in Crisis

14: The Jesus Movement in Crisis

Move from the historical Jesus—a man gruesomely crucified—to a religious movement. After witnessing Jesus’s final days, shift your attention to the apostle Paul, the man whose evangelism created the Christian religion as he spread the word throughout the Roman Empire.

22 min
The Rise of Christianity

15: The Rise of Christianity

The church calls Jesus the Son of God. Jesus called himself the Son of Man. But before he was either, he was a man in a particular time and place. Jean-Pierre rounds out this course by following Paul into Asia Minor and the spread of the Jesus movement into a world religion.

25 min