It’s hard to say who would enjoy Testament more — those who believe in the Bible as the Word of God (or inspired by God) or those who think the Bible is a fictional work, a collection of fables and horror stories. Testament is a three-disk DVD set comprised of a seven-episode British documentary. It includes a 20-page viewer’s guide.
For those interested in knowing who wrote the Bible or from whence various stories came, Testament is an interesting series. Its changing locations add dimension to the materials discussed, and the archaeology angle offers support to each episode.
Archeologist John Romer takes viewers on a tour of Biblically historical sites and discusses many of those who populate the Bible’s pages. Romer’s presence suggests a perpetually amused professor (who is often ironically amusing) whose job is to teach inferior minds the truth. He reviews various Biblical events, and explains why they could or couldn’t have happened based on archaeological evidence.
True believers can argue that many things happen for which there is no evidence, but arguing with a DVD can be tiresome and is generally fruitless. Romer’s delivery of some of the facts can provoke viewers (whether believers or not) into finishing his statements with, “on the other hand, there’s no evidence to the contrary.”
A warning appears on both the back of the box and on screen when Testament begins: “Due to the age of these programs and the improved resolution that DVD provides, you may notice occasional flaws in the image and audio on this DVD presentation that were beyond our ability to correct from the original materials.” Any technical difficulties are a minor distraction; Testament suffers more from advances in technology over the decades since it was produced in 1988.
Documentaries on The History Channel, Discovery (where Testament has been shown), and National Geographic, among others, offer high quality reenactments, computer-generated images, and special effects that were not available when Testament was filmed. Many viewers may find that, in comparison to currently available documents, Testament is as stimulating as a dry lecture in a dusty hall. That’s like comparing a book to a high-tech, hi-def television program. The information presented outweighs the technical issues, and makes this series fascinating.
Once Romer starts discussing verifiable facts, the program becomes much more involving. When Testament outlines the beginnings of the Christian church, the politics and egos involved are both amazing and amusing.
Bonus features included with Testament are the viewer’s guide, “Bearers of the Word” (biographies of major figures in the development of the Bible), and “exclusive web extras.”