FishFlix.com is a new company to me, but it has so many unusual products that I know I will be back for more. For now, though, I get to talk about Exploring Ephesus (a DVD currently priced at $11.99), a travelogue of sorts about an ancient and hugely historically important city. For Catholics, of course, Ephesus is the location of the House of the Virgin Mary, declared a pilgrimage site by Saint John Paul II in the 1980s. Additionally, it is traditionally taught that St. John wrote his Gospel here, and that Mary may have accompanied him, preferring the more solitary life offered by Ephesus. For the majority of Christians (and for Catholics, too, of course!), Ephesus is most well-known as the site of one of the first and most important Christian communities (established by St. John, but developed by St. Paul). While in prison in Rome, St. Paul wrote one of his epistles to the church at Ephesus (N.B., I know that there is debate about whether the letter to the Ephesians was actually written to the church at Ephesus, but that discussion certainly goes beyond the scope of this review!).
In Exploring Ephesus, two scholars, Drs. Mark Wilson and Andy Jackson, hop in a convertible and road trip around Turkey. I don't mean to make light of the content of this DVD, because the genius of the presentation is its informal style. In a world of 24/7 Nat Geo and History Channel, FishFlix is facing some serious competition is terms of bringing an ancient city to a modern public, but they have found the perfect means of doing so. Taking two old friends and having them visit sites they know personally and academically and just talk about them with each other is inspired. You feel like you're in the backseat, along on a field trip for a college or grad school class on Biblical history. It's awesome (and it blows the cable channel shows out of the water).
The most surprising thing about this video is its length. For being only 60 minutes long, you see so much! From the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) to the Roman Aqueduct (Ephesus *was* the second largest city in the Roman Empire!), from the Great Theater of Ephesus to the Island of Patmos (and, thanks to Honors at the University of St. Thomas, I will forever have Charles le Brun's painting "St. John on the Island of Patmos" in my mind when I think of that island!), you get to see absolutely everything. There is some feeling of unreality since there are definitely modern features in these decidedly ancient places, but you still get a real feel for what Ephesus must have been like when it was a crucial part of the spread of Christianity.
The bonus features include commentary on Ephesians and on the seven churches of Asia Minor (including Smyrna and Laodicea), plus lessons we can learn today.
I watched this DVD with all of my children, and we all loved it. This topic and style of presentation is up everyone's (13, 11, 10, 10) alley! We focus heavily on Church history in our homeschool, probably for two reasons: first, I was raised by a father with a strong interest in the subject and second, I was fortunate enough to go to a wonderful Catholic university where I had the opportunity to take many classes (enough to add up to a minor in theology) in Church doctrine and Church history. I always try to tell the kids the background of a book of the Bible when we begin to read or study it. We also discuss the language of origin that the book was written in in order best to understand the modern translation. Being able to actually see one of the most significant places for the development and spread of Christianity takes the way we approach Bible study to a whole new level.
Exploring Ephesus is only one of the unique and amazing DVDs that FishFlix.com has to offer, and the Crew was fortunate enough to be able to review several of them. Be sure to click the banner below to read all of their reviews!