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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
Can Finally Retire Those 20 Year Old VHS Tapes
By Jonathan Baron
The Personal View documentary, where a noted and accomplished academic acted as docent as a production crew toured the world, went out of style in the '90s. Too subjective people said. This as all formerly respected journalism took a turn into total subjectivity, engineered to reach known, defined segments of the body politic. Meanwhile first rate historical documentaries became impossibly impersonal and often dull.
Nonetheless the Personal View era produced an impressive body of work: Carl Sagan's Cosmos, Jacob Bronowski's The Accent of Man, James Burke's Connections, Kenneth Clark's Civilization among others. None were better than John Romer as he did something nobody else could: deliver history in depth in an unassuming, even affectionate way. Coming into Egyptology through the back door, as it were, he never developed the studied air of posh disdain you find in Simon Schama, or the man impressed with his own cleverness that you find in Burke, or the sometimes tiresome cheerfulness and overreaching hyperbole of Michael Wood. John Romer is BBC quality without the attitude or affectation.
Testament may well be his best series. Right up front he makes it clear he's an agnostic. His captivating and thorough exploration of the subject matter is driven by unflagging curiosity, not religious zeal. His central thesis is that the Bible is important whether you believe it or not. Its origins and development are fascinating and essential no matter what you believe. None of that's important really. You become so absorbed in the material - in the places, cultures, art, tantalizing fragments of civilizations long gone - that you forget any expectations you brought with you.
I recorded these programs during their broadcast run on PBS in the late 80s. They were getting a bit hard to view these past few years. Although, as one reviewer notes, they are far from High Definition in this DVD release but they are nonetheless splendid. After languishing for decades on the dusty shelf at a largely defunct studio it's amazing they're available at all.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful.
Found at Last! Testament is the discovery of the ages!
By Dan A. Townsend
John Romer guides you back through time, sifting through artifacts, sand and myth. This is one of the most important series in the 25 years! I remember the first time I viewed it, I was blown away by his knowledge, technique and enthusiasm. He is a wonderful and persuasive story teller. I am so happy to find this set on DVD. I have worn out two sets of videos I had recorded on VHS. I cannot wait to watch this series and spend time with my old friend. You do not have to be Christian, or religious in any sense of the word to experience the wonder of it all.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful. See all 35 customer reviews...
A very important work
By Michael O'Farrell
John Romer is a professional archaeologist. He works mostly in Egypt but also more widely in the Middle East. His scientific approach that acknowledges faith but isn't captured by it results in a well balanced analysis. Romer's deep understanding of the times and the people's of the bible gives us a really good insight into the events in the bible and the construction of the book itself.
Not a production that will please those who insist on a strictly literal reading of each word in the bible but terribly useful for anyone who wants to understand the bible in its correct historical context. After all it was not written by peoples with a 21st century education or our sense of the world. As you learn to see the world through their eyes you can better understand why they wrote in the way they did.