Visiting the Mamertine prison in Rome where Paul was held impacted me greatly. Paul had seen the risen Christ and remained faithful to the end amidst Roman persecution. He saw cities turned upside down as he preached the gospel and suffered greatly for it. Meditating on Christ’s power at display in his life has served as a ballast for my faith. So naturally, after hearing of a new video series tracing the apostle’s steps, I knew I had to see it.
In the series In Pursuit of Paul The Apostle, Dr. Constantine Campbell (New Testament scholar at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and author of Paul and Union with Christ) serves as tour guide, sharing relevant historical-cultural information, conversing with experts, and driving home what it really means to follow Christ. Sites visited include Jerusalem, Turkey, Ephesus, Petra, and several Mediterranean cities, before finishing where Paul finished his race: Rome. (Campbell and the film crew didn’t go to Damascus due to unrest.) The 7-part series averages 22 minutes per episode and bonus features take you deeper into Pauline epistles relating to specific locations.
Review & Recommendation
Visually, the series is stunning. The videography is top notch and the drone footage of beautiful landscapes made me want to go on a similar trip myself. The beauty of such a series is that even if I don’t, I still feel like I was there for a short visit.
One challenge I faced visiting the Mamertine prison and again watching this series was connecting the 21st century with the first. Was Paul really there? What was it really like back then? Much has changed in many of these places in the past two-thousand years—cities have either grown and modernized or are ruins. What bridged the gap for me was reflection. The more I reflected on the life of Paul and considered his life of service to Christ in these contexts, the more I was affected. One of the guides said it well, “It is one thing to admire Paul from the stories in Acts. But to actually experience and feel the challenges and level of commitment it took to do these journeys and everything else he did, my admiration has gone way up.”
Even Campbell, an expert on Paul, agrees. “I’ve always been a fan of Paul. I feel close to him. I get him…Actually following him on his journeys, however, has created some distance between us. He walked across [what is now] Turkey twice. He undertook many unthinkable hardships for the sake of the gospel. I’m not that guy.”
Campbell’s apologist nature came out while filming and sparked the idea to also produce a movie-length feature of this material for a secular audience (unsure of release date). The next three in this series (one on Peter in 2018, John in 2019, and Jesus in 2020) will follow suit and target both the church and a broader audience.
In Pursuit of Paul is for the Bible lover and the wannabe traveler without the time, energy, or resources for a similar journey. If you’re like me, you will be eager to re-engage the Pauline epistles and even read a biography of this great follower of Christ after watching. God truly wanted us to learn from this remarkable man or else He wouldn’t have given us so much information about him in the New Testament. In Pursuit of Paul is a great way to go deeper on a crucial New Testament figure.
View the series trailer:
 Some quotes and information taken from article in Fall 2017 edition of The Trinity Magazine article written by Chris Donato.