When I get a chance to combine to combine my love of history and my interest in the truth of Scripture with good entertainment, that's a big win, so I was delighted to be able to review Drive Thru HistoryⓇ - "The Gospels" for the Homeschool Review Crew.
If you're not already familiar with Drive Thru HistoryⓇ, it is a fast-paced video series in which host Dave Stotts invites viewers along on driving trips through the places where major historical events took place, and provides facts and insights to teach history. You're hearing history in story form, while seeing the places and artifacts connected to it. And Dave's narration is not dull and dry either - it's clear that he's enjoying the trip and the historical discoveries, and he inserts humorous observations and some asides about the vehicles he's driving to make the road trip lots of fun. There are four Drive Thru HistoryⓇ series - Ancient History, American History, Holy Land, and the set we reviewed - "The Gospels".
Drive Thru HistoryⓇ - "The Gospels" is the newest in the series, and takes you along as Dave Stotts explores locations mentioned in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He travels to more than 50 sites in Israel that give a new perspective to the stories of Jesus told by the gospel writers. It's pretty exciting to see the actual places where these events took place, and to see the archaeological evidence that backs up the story.
It's a set of three DVDs with 18 episodes (each is about a half hour long) that go through the life of Jesus from his miraculous birth to his death and resurrection. There's also a study guide included that provides discussion questions, beautiful images, and some additional notes; so the series can be used by small group studies, Sunday Schools, or homeschools. The guidebook has glossy pages and is part of the DVD case which looks like a hard-cover book.
The 18 episodes are:
- The Historical Landscape
- The Announcements
- Jesus Is Born
- Jesus Grows Up
- Jesus Starts His Ministry
- Jesus Returns to Galilee
- Jesus Begins His Miracles
- Jesus Teaches With Authority
- The Sermon on the Mount
- Jesus Travels the Sea of Galilee
- Jesus Travels North
- A Final Trip to Jerusalem
- Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem
- The Last Supper
- The Trial of Jesus
- The Crucifixion of Jesus
- The Resurrection of Jesus
- Who Is Jesus?
How did we use it? Well, to be honest, it was ME who wanted to view this most of all, and my husband did too. At this time, I wasn't ready to use it as a study, but as I was watching the episodes, I kept the guidebook handy and followed along to get an idea of what kind of discussion questions were included. You see, my husband and I often lead adult small group studies at our church, so we're thinking ahead to how we might use Drive Thru HistoryⓇ DVDs in that setting. (In fact, right now there is a small group study of Drive Thru HistoryⓇ - "The Gospels" happening at our church on Sunday mornings! I'm thinking of possibly starting the study with another group on Wednesday evenings at some point.) Anyway, so I watched most of the series, my husband watched some with me, and although none of my kids sat down purposefully to watch, I noticed that it caught their attention when they'd walk by so I know they'd enjoy it! Especially since they had been considering joining the Sunday morning small group studying this at church.
Dave Stotts takes us on an adventurous trip through Israel and through history, showing us archaeological finds like a first century fishing boat from the Sea of Galilee, a restored first century synagogue, and the house of Peter in Capernaum. He visits Herod's building projects, the Pool of Siloam, and the churches at the sites at the traditional sites of the Anunciation, the Nativity, and the Garden of Gethsemane. He drives to locations mentioned in the gospels - the Jordan River, Bethany, Cana, and Samaria - and explores possible sites for events like the feeding of the five thousand and the Transfiguration. Throughout, Dave provides a fascinating narration telling the stories from the gospels along with historical and geographical background facts that give perspective, and he often references early historians like Josephus and Eusebius. You'll also see beautiful artwork depicting scenes from Jesus' life, and breathtaking scenery. As I mentioned, Dave doesn't just recite facts, he has some fun along the way! He even gets a hankering for Texas barbecue at one point and wraps up some ribs in tin foil and cooks them on the car's engine as he drives through the desert - it looked delicious. I can respect a tour guide that stops for good barbecue! And with scenery and adventures like the following --- no wonder each episode feels shorter than the half hour! There's a lot of information and sights packed into each episode.
For those wishing to use this DVD set for a small group study or as part of a homeschool Bible course, the study guide has discussion questions to get you started, along with a map to help you keep track of where you're travelling, and some "Side Roads" or background information. And the photos are stunning.
What we liked best:
- the presentation of so much evidence that the Bible is a trustworthy historical document.
- being able to see the places where events of the Gospel happened - some are known sites, some are possible sites, and some are examples of what the places would have been like. In any case, it gives new meaning and perspective to the Scripture when you can better picture what it was probably like.
- visually rich but fast paced - it keeps everyone's attention and has appeal to a broad age range.
- the last episode closes with the personal challenge to answer the question Jesus posed to Peter: "Who do you say that I am?"
- Scripture is accurately quoted, always with the references given, and is the primary source for the story being told. In addition, I love that at the end of each episode, an end note reminds the viewer that there is no substitute for reading the Scriptures for yourself, and lists the chapters in the gospels that tell the stories from that episode.
What I need to mention:
- you will probably lose track of time as you're watching, and perhaps forget to make dinner or get other things done . . . *ahem*
Our bottom line: I really think Drive Thru HistoryⓇ - "The Gospels" is a must-see series. Whether for your homeschool, for a church study group, or for family movie nights, this is a series that will entertain, educate, and encourage you to consider the life and ministry of Jesus Christ in new ways.
Would you like to join Dave Stotts on his drives through history? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: https://www.DriveThruHistory.com/
Drive Thru HistoryⓇ - "The Gospels" (Special Edition) is available for $89.95. See the website for details and for pricing of the other Drive Thru HistoryⓇ series.
Age Recommendation: This is suitable viewing for the entire family, although middle school age teens through adults will get the most out of it, and it can be used as curriculum for homeschool or group Bible studies.
Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews.
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