We are excited to announce Prof. N.T. Wright’s newest course on the ‘Gospel of Mark’! In anticipation of its release, we want to give you a behind the scenes look at filming and producing our first course dedicated to an exegetical study of a Gospel.
One of the core values of our organisation is to be as personal as possible. This includes David’s partnership with Prof. Wright, which is one of the reasons why he travels to the U.K. to collaborate in person and film the courses together.
In April 2020, however, travel restrictions meant that I travelled to Oxford solo, and David joined us via Zoom (at 3:00am in the US). After completing a mandatory quarantine, I scouted our filming location. Our original plan was to film in the oldest room in Oxford, built in 1050 AD and located within St. Michael at the North Gate.
The beautiful ‘Tower Room’ at St. Michael North Gate is located in the heart of the city. Unfortunately, since lockdown restrictions were easing, ambient noise from tourists, buskers, workers, residents, and students made filming there an impossibility. When Stephen and I realised that the noise would not be suitable for recording, Rev. Anthony Buckley, vicar of St. Michael’s, generously offered to welcome us into his home.
Left to right: Exterior of the Tower Room; Prof. Wright preparing to cycle to Rev. Anthony’s home; Interior of the Tower Room
Prof. Wright sped off on his bicycle, while Stephen and I gathered the filming equipment and headed off to the vicar’s house—which is not attached to the church—about two miles away. Rev. Anthony quickly cleared a spot in his beautiful study, which is what you’ll see in the new course. Poppy, the vicar’s cat, was none too happy at having been evicted from the study for this particular project!
Stephen quickly located a suitable filming angle and made lighting adjustments, and within a mere two hours, filming for our first lecture of ‘Gospel of Mark’ was underway.
Left to Right: Stephen and Prof. Wright doing sound checks; Rev. Anthony Buckley, and Prof. N.T. Wright.
One of the a-ha moments for me during filming was when Prof. Wright unveiled a ‘tribute penny’—a coin used in the first century—to illustrate the famous ‘render unto Caesar’ passage in Mark 12:17. I began to see afresh the importance of studying the rich and illustrative history, culture, language, and images used in the Bible.
One of the important themes Mark wants his audience to notice is the idea of ‘authority’, and what it means to be in charge. In this lecture, Prof. Wright teaches that when Jesus says, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’, this statement is often misunderstood. He observes that what is ‘owed’ to God, the Creator, is the totality of human life. Jesus urges loyalty to himself and God’s Kingdom, which is greater than what was going on in the Roman Empire and in the Temple.
From my seat in the corner of Rev. Anthony’s office, where I took notes for curriculum development, the proverbial penny dropped: Allegiance to Jesus and the Law of God is aimed at everything—the whole of human life—which centres love of God and love of neighbour around the Son of Man who came not to be served, but to serve.
We are so grateful to Rev. Buckley for graciously opening his home to us for our filming needs. You can follow us on Instagram @ntwrightonline for more behind-the-scenes content! And we hope you will join us for our newest course, Gospel of Mark, now available for US$79.99.
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