“Story of God” Comes to Israel to Ponder: Is Jesus God?
Host Morgan Freeman surmises that the early Church was led mostly by women who saw Jesus as God
The third season of the National Geographic show “The Story of God” will be filmed in Israel. Since 2016, Morgan Freeman has been traveling the world to report on many different faiths and how they understand God. Freeman now travels to Israel to explore the roots of Christianity, the God of Abraham.
“There is only one God on the earth whose followers number in the billions,” Freeman admits about Jesus. In the season’s premier episode, the Academy Award-winning actor travels to the Megiddo prison in the Jezreel Valley where an extraordinary archaeological find of the early Church’s belief in the divinity of Jesus was uncovered. “I needed to understand when Jesus the preacher, Jesus the rabbi came to be seen as divine Jesus,” Freeman says of his reason for visiting the site.
On the grounds of the high-security prison, archaeologists discovered in 2005 what many believe to be evidence outside of the Bible that already very early on, Jewish Christians believed that Jesus was God. Among the finds is a Jewish Christian prayer hall dating to the year 230 AD featuring a large mosaic honoring Jesus. Traditional churches were not yet in existence in the 3rd century, but houses of prayer, or these “home churches,” were not uncommon.
The script on the mosaic floor tells of a female follower of Jesus who dedicated a table for the Lord’s Supper to “God, Jesus Christ.” The full text reads: “The God-loving Akeptous has offered the table to God Jesus Christ as a memorial.” Akeptous is believed to be the name of a woman who paid for a communion table. “As suggested by the letters of the Apostle Paul, many of the early church leaders were women,” Freeman explains, after learning that the mosaic features a woman's name.
This find is evidence that early followers of Jesus believed and understood that Christ is divine. “Christ as God,” Freeman agrees. “The incredible discovery of the ordinary house floor revealed that 1,800 years ago, Christians gathered there to worship Jesus as God. That is a belief Christians around the world hold to this day, hailing the Messiah as one of the three persons in the Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” he notes.
Freeman also points out that perhaps it was that “the dominant voice being women played a part in transforming Jesus the rabbi, Jesus the prophet, into Jesus the God, God made flesh. I would argue that this transformation has given Christianity its longevity. Billions of souls follow the teaching, not of a man but of God. God on earth,” he suggests.
In addition to traveling to Israel, six new episodes with Freeman and his National Geographic crew “take viewers on an interfaith journey around the globe, traveling to 30 different cities of historical and anthropological importance, including Jerusalem, Kathmandu, Jericho, Rome, Bethlehem, Paris, Prague, Hanoi, Toronto and Lourdes.”
The second season of the National Geographic series aired in 171 countries and in 45 languages. The third season will air in the US on the National Geographic Channel on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. In Israel, the show’s third season will premiere April 21 on National Geographic and Sundays at 10:50 p.m.