Segments in this Video

Early Jesus Followers (01:06)


This segment orients viewers to Paul's firsthand accounts of Christianity's formation.

Paul's Story: Prologue (02:45)

The "Acts of the Apostles" mentions Paul's arrival in Jerusalem, but omits that he brought gold. In this film, scholars will discuss his role in the formation of Christianity. (Credits)

Why Turn Back? (02:32)

In 58 AD, Paul worried that Jerusalem Christians wouldn't accept his collection. Scholars will examine his original letters to learn why he risked his life to deliver the money.

Paul's Conversion (03:57)

Scholars discuss how Saul of Tarsus perceived Jesus appearing to him in 33 AD. He drew messianic inspiration from Abraham.

Paul's Message (02:03)

After failing to convert followers in Nabatea, Paul turned to Jerusalem, hoping to win support among Jesus' apostles.

"So Called" Apostles (02:53)

Jerusalem Christians were suspicious of Paul. He convinced Peter of his conversion, but they parted on uneasy terms.

Preaching to Pagans (04:20)

Hear how Paul split from Barnabas' Jewish mission and formed a strategy to convert Gentiles directly to Jesus. James summoned Paul to Jerusalem.

Pressuring the Apostles (04:44)

Scholars describe James' suspicion of Paul. Hear how Paul and Titus used circumcision to try to win Judean support of Gentile conversion.

Paul's Polite Bribe (03:53)

James' followers refused to eat with Gentiles, threatening Christian unity. Paul proposed to raise money for the Jerusalem Church in return for its support of his mission.

Converting the Roman World (02:15)

Paul headed west with Silas, Timothy, and Titus to Greco-Roman lands, converting Gentiles with his unifying message.

Rising and Dying Gods (01:13)

Scholars discuss why Greeks were resistant to the Resurrection in Paul's gospel.

Fundraising Strategy (03:17)

Paul arrived in Corinth in 52 A.D. Scholars explain why he worked as a tent maker to avoid handouts under the patronage system. News of Church factions sent him back to Antioch.

Breaking with Barnabas (03:31)

Paul found Jews and Gentiles eating at separate tables in Antioch. He accused Peter of submitting to James and left to start a new Gentile mission.

Under Caesar's Nose (03:05)

Paul used his Roman citizenship to win converts and had success in Philippi. Hear how he challenged the Pax Romana with an alternative to military conquest.

Nervous Breakdown (04:47)

Paul converted Artemis followers in Ephesus in 52 A.D., causing a riot. He was arrested and experienced anxiety over his churches. Scholars compare his suffering to that of Christ.

Pseudo Apostles (06:03)

Paul learned that Jewish Christians were infiltrating his Corinthian congregation to stop his Jerusalem collection; no Gentiles came to his defense.

Paul's Collection (02:30)

In 56 A.D., Paul brought money to Jerusalem with Gentile disciples and Roman guards. While waiting for passage, he wrote a final letter.

Paul's Last Will and Testament (06:15)

The Roman Church gained a Gentile majority during Jewish exile. Scholars discuss Paul's Rome mission and his argument for Christian unity expressed in a letter to Jerusalem.

Entering the Lion's Mouth (03:53)

Paul arrived in Jerusalem, claiming his revelation trumped the Apostles' earlier association with Jesus. Scholars analyze his decision to deliver the collection in person.

James' Requirements (03:25)

James temporarily agreed to Paul's mission in Jerusalem. He told Paul to "launder" the Gentile collection through the Temple; many Jews didn't want the money at all.

Sound the Alarm (04:31)

Paul's Gentile companions were discovered in the Temple. Paul was dragged outside, beaten, and arrested by Roman guards. Scholars discuss why Jews didn't defend him.

Hands Dirty (01:38)

Scholars discuss James' role in Paul's ambush and arrest.

Gentile Mission (01:52)

Scholars speculate whether Jesus would have approved of Paul's gospel, had he lived to see the split with James.

Paul's Demise (02:29)

After Romans destroyed the Temple, only Paul's teachings remained and the Church became Gentile. He likely died in a Roman prison, believing his mission a failure.

Paul's Story: Epilogue (03:04)

Paul's conflict with James and the Jewish Christians led to his imprisonment and death. Scholars discuss Luke's motive for omitting the early Church split.

Credits: Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe (02:09)

Credits: Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe

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Apostle Paul: A Polite Bribe

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Thirty years after the death of Christ, the future of the Christian church teetered on faulty ground. It was split into two factions, the Apostle Paul’s Gentile Churches and the Judean Church lead by Jesus’ own brother James. Both groups had clearly emerged with very different visions for the mission, and were headed toward a final showdown—a mutually destructive fracture that would have ended the Church in its infancy, if not for one man. This program explores how Paul’s vision kept the early Christian movement together and analyzes Luke’s omission of his collection for the Jerusalem Temple in the Acts. It includes excerpts from Paul’s original letters and interviews with Biblical scholars.

Length: 84 minutes

Item#: BVL60531

ISBN: 978-1-60057-574-7

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Robert Orlando promises a breakthrough film on Paul. He combines real expertise and creativity in film-making with a sophisticated knowledge of the New Testament and the Pauline literature within it. No one has previously been able to combine these talents before. His film will be the first to capture an audience and still remain accurate and informative.”—Alan F. Segal, Professor of Religion, Columbia University

“Its engrossing 80 cinematic minutes portray a Paul convincingly situated in his first century Mediterranean setting and immersed in conflict with Christ-movement leaders in Jerusalem in a way normally only attained in serious academic scholarship. It compellingly integrates a strong story-line, lively interviews with leading New Testament scholars, fine animation and effects, and magnificent music. Whenever I teach Paul in the future I will show this film to my students very early in the course.”—Philip Esler, University of Gloucestershire

“…a compellingly-told story of a key figure in the history of early Christianity.”—James McGrath, Butler University

“…ardently and articulately makes a plausible case for what might have happened to Paul.”—Corrie Norman, University of Wisconsin
“…scholars and laypersons alike are given the unique chance to meet Paul again for the first time.”—–Gerd Ludemann, Vanderbilt University

“…fair and airs a spectrum of opinions.”—Ben Witherington, Asbury Theological Seminary

A Polite Bribe pulls back the veil on that history revealing the true account of the parties and politics that gave birth to Christianity, including Paul’s bitter conflict with James the brother of Jesus and the original apostles. The fateful results of that “battle of the apostles,” is an untold story that is at last coming to light.”—James Tabor, University of North Carolina

“Robert Orlando is by far the most knowledgeable and probing filmmaker I have dealt with in connection with films on Jesus or Paul. He has read widely, knows the different perspectives on Paul, his letters, and the cast of scholarly characters. While maintaining a broad spectrum of views on Paul, he will surely produce the most ‘down-to-earth’ Paul that we have yet seen on film.”—Richard Horsley, D.P. of Liberal Arts and Religion, University of Massachusetts

“Robert Orlando has an amazing knowledge not only of Paul, but also of Pauline scholarship. What matters most, however, is the fact that he retains a healthy critical attitude to the apostle that balances the extent to which he too, like so many others, has fallen under his spell.”—Troels Engberg-Pedersen, University of Copenhagen

“Robert Orlando is the most well-read, knowledgeable, and passionate film-maker ever to tackle the Apostle Paul. Because Orlando combines mastery of his subject with such eye-catching artistry and creativity, he succeeds in making a film that both illumines its subject and pleases the eye.”—Pamela Eisenbaum, Associate Professor, IIiff School of Theology

“This is not your ordinary life of Paul. Not a triumphant apostle of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but one who suffered set-back after set-back throughout his career, often in the form of opposition from the church in Jerusalem. Despite all that, he nevertheless remained faithful to his apostolic ministry to the gentiles. But despite all forms of opposition, Paul remained faithful to his God-given task of announcing what God has done for all peoples, Jew as well as gentile, in his act of grace in Jesus Christ.”—Paul Achtemier, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia

“Robert Orlando combines a thorough knowledge of Paul’s letters with a deep sensitivity to the issue of Jewish-Christian relations in the first century. His movie promises both to bring the historical setting to life and to draw the viewer into it. No doubt so compelling an experience will enable us all to read the texts with new eyes and thus better grasp their true significance.”—Gerd Lüdemann, Professor, Geor-August-University Göttingen

“…does a good job at getting at some of the major tensions and problems in Paul's life and ministry.”—Bill Tameus, Faith Matters Blog

“…an informative and provocative film.”—Larry Hurtado, University of Edinburgh

“…a narrative that cannot easily be dismissed, regardless of one's faith or political leanings.”—Joshua Paul Smith, Near Emanus Blog

“I can't recall having seen anything quite like this.”—Mark Goodacre, Duke University

“If Oliver Stone was a Bible scholar, he might turn out a movie like A Polite Bribe.”—Film Critic Amy Longsdorf, Allentown Morning Call

“The artwork in Robert Orlando’s film is exquisite and should be exhibited in the Philadelphia Museum Of Art. Robert’s interviews, with religious academics, is the thread that weaves together the tapestry of the film. Robert has found charismatic and entertaining story-tellers who explain the story of Paul in such a captivating manner that it is appealing and most attractive to people like myself, who do not know the story and who do not subscribe to the beliefs of Christianity.”—Phillip Silverstone, “Time Out” WWDB-TALK 860 Philadelphia

“…seamlessly blends cutting-edge Pauline scholarship with narrative storytelling.”—Mark Mattison, author, creator of “The Paul Page”

A Polite Bribe has the shock value of The DaVinci Code, but the bigger shock is that it’s likely the real truth about Christianity. Go on the journey of the Apostle Paul presented with great detail by filmmaker Robert Orlando, and in this documentary, hear scholars and historians explore those first decades after the birth of Jesus Christ. It will challenge everything you thought you knew.”—Valerie Knight, WOGL-FM

A Polite Bribe is thought-provoking, informative, inspiring and eye-opening. A conversation starter about one of the most notable New Testament figures. This movie goes beyond the neatly packaged traditional biblical story of Paul and into a deeper understanding of this iconic figure and the roots of modern day religion.”—Paul Perrello, Metro Networks



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