Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Drive Thru History® - "The Gospels" ~ A Crew Review

Would you like to learn more about the life of Jesus Christ, view the amazing land where He lived, and hear about the historical evidence for the Gospel accounts without needing to get a passport or fly internationally? Now you can do all of that and more with Dave Stotts in Drive Through History® - "The Gospels." Many families may be familiar with Drive Thru History® from their earlier series: Holy Land, American History or Ancient History. 

Wow, just wow!

This newest series "The Gospels" is truly AMAZING! At one point Arlene (16) turned to me and said "Mom, this is my favorite review we have ever done! Ever!" Considering we've done around 150 reviews in the past six years - that is high praise! The whole family has been enjoying this series that includes 3 DVDs and almost nine hours of video over 18 episodes. Kurt and Emily (18) have often watched the episodes with us, and the frequent call is for "one more!"  While the video component alone is terrific, I first want to tell you about the additional material that comes in the set. 

The DVDs come packaged in a blue book-shaped case inside the sleeve that depicts scenes from the series. Inside that blue book cover you will find the 3 DVDs plus an attached 118 page study guide. The endpapers of the case are maps pf Israel. The study guide includes photos from the videos, brief summaries of each episode, historical quotes, five discussion questions about each episode, a Side Road section that covers some aspect of history, either from within the Scripture or the local area covered in that episode, as well as recommended Bible readings that vary from one to five chapters  corresponding to each episode. The discussion questions make this an ideal resource to use for families, Sunday School classes or other study groups as they dig deeper into what is covered in each episode and the lasting effects of this extraordinary life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Dave Stotts, the narrator and host of the videos is witty and fun to watch, as he roams all over Israel in his borrowed "Holy Land Rover" that looks like it was found in the very back row of a suspicious used-car lot. Dave guides the viewers throughout the history of Jesus' life, being entertaining, but also serious when needed. Have I mentioned yet how much we all enjoyed this series? By the time we were on the third episode Kurt was already online looking at the other series from Drive Thru History® and seeing where they were available. We found several of the other series' episodes are available with our SchoolhouseTeachers membership. We will be watching more of them!

Videos to make you think

Back to the video episodes. The filmography is stellar, but the first thing (besides the top-notch content) to strike my eye was the graphics! We have watched so many documentaries and been to so many museums over the years and I wish they had had this graphics team working for them! The graphics always highlighted the scenes, without being overpowering. Not an easy task! There is also an option for English subtitles for the hearing impaired. Since we did not need the subtitles, we usually turned them off to better see the entire video and graphics. Whoever figured out how to animate the stained glass windows and antique paintings deserves a nod as well. Truly amazing!

I was blown away by how high-quality this presentation was overall. When Dave is standing on top of one of the hills outside of Jerusalem, or in other parts of Israel, you can sometimes hear the wind blowing in his microphone. Far from taking away from the presentation - it adds a depth of clarity to your thinking. You understand just how powerful the storms might be on the Sea of Galilee. As Dave presents the Scriptural and historical evidence for the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the viewer is compelled to compare their thinking to the truths presented. When he visits areas that have been recognized as historically significant, Dave is sure to give you the timeline of when it was recognized as a significant site, who recognized it (early church,Catholics, Protestants, Jewish historians, etc.,) and tell you if there is recent archaeological evidence that either supports the claim or adjusts the location to elsewhere. It is shockingly thorough and honest. 

Episode 16 is the only one with a Parental warning. It is the episode focused upon Jesus' crucifixion and shows some rather graphic scenes. Each episode is a mix of Dave traveling to the location and modern-day shots, historic paintings and other art - like stained glass windows, and reenactment scenes that portray the people and lifestyles of the time. The crucifixion reenactment scenes are not nearly as gory as the real thing was, but you will want to pre-watch them before showing it to your children under 12. It might be that you want to fast-forward through specific parts, or even just read the study guide and skip that video episode if you have young children who are participating.

I felt like this review came at just the right time for Arlene and I. We have been watching several episodes each week and were most of the way through the series before Easter. It helped remind us of the historic evidences that are all around the Holy Land, and yet, that our faith must always be rooted foremost in the Scriptures and Christ! I have always wondered what it looked like to see the remains of the wailing wall up close, to go to the Palestinian controlled area of the West Bank and see behind the walls into Bethlehem or Jericho. Dave Stotts takes the viewers to places that we might never get a chance to see, because as one person, he covers so much of the area in this series, while many tours of Israel only go to the tourist spots. I was amazed when he stood on the Roman road, or climbed down into the ruins of an ancient church. I felt like I was really there.

Artistically fulfilling and still life changing

Artistically, this series shows both the arid land, with the rocks and low shrubbery, as well as the fertile ground filled with olive trees, and pastures filled with sheep grazing. The flowers of the field? Yup, those too, in the groves under the olive trees. He shows fishermen along the see of Galilee, and even gets in a boat and rows partway across the water, also known as Lake Tiberius, just to show how vast it is in comparison to our thinking from those small maps in the back of our Bibles. As Israel's largest freshwater lake at 13 miles long, it is more vast than I ever imagined. No wonder it took the disciples so long to row across it when they were fighting the wind! The visual images from these episodes filled my mind as I was reading through my Bible in the Gospel of John over the past two weeks. Even after so many times of reading the words, I felt like I had a better understanding of the depth of the meaning because I had these new images of the locations in my memory.

What more can I say? You really need to get yourself a copy of this amazing resource! It is available on the Drive Thru History website for $89.95, but it is worth far more than that amount. This is one we will watch over and over again! Thank you Dave Stotts and the whole Drive Thru History® team for producing such a thought-provoking, in-depth resource. You have presented the Gospel message and the life of Jesus of Nazareth with grace and truth!

And now, your favorite part: Arlene's review!
I liked Drive Thru History® - “The Gospels” better then anything we have reviewed before! And that's saying something because we have reviewed a lot of great products over the years. 
I think one of the reason I liked it so much is I love science and history tv shows where the host goes deep in the jungle to look for ruins and learn about the people who used to live there or the shows where they look for amazing animals. This was the same sort of thing only better because I never had to worry about them using a timeline of millions of years since I don't believe in millions of years. 
One of the things I always wonder when I watch something that is for homeschoolers or is not made by a big movie/tv show company is will it be the same quality both in subject and in video quality?
I will say that Drive Thru History® - “The Gospels” definitely was! It was the same amazing video quality as any other history tv show you will find from a big company. The subject was, of course, one that as a Christian I have always wanted to know more about. It wasn't a boring documentary, or just a show about looking at old ruins (of which I have seen some of and they could never hold my attention).
Drive Thru History® - “The Gospels” was an amazing show talking about the life of Jesus, showing where He lived and telling the story about how He grew up and His ministry. And not just telling about Him as just some other old historical figure but as the amazing Son of God and Savior of the world that He is. Throughout the 18 episodes Dave Stotts shows - using not just the Bible but other historical documents and records from the time - just how amazing Jesus was while here on earth. He goes through Jesus' life chronologically, some episodes cover a long period of time others just a few days. He travels - sometimes going to different places more then once as he follows Jesus' path from birth to resurrection - to amazing places from the shores of the Sea of Galilee to many amazing buildings built where tradition hold that certain events of the gospels happened.
Over all it was an amazing show and I can't wait to see more shows from Drive Thru History®.

A big thank you to Arlene for making all the graphics in today's review :)

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The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews}

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1 comment:

  1. I so wanted to do this review.. now I feel more horrid that I didn't get it... have to see if I can afford to invest in it. :) well done review.