News Release: Religion and Ethics

Nov. 19,  2009

Christmas Scripture, Art, Scholarship Joined in DVD from Candler

Emory University's Candler School of Theology has released "A Thrill of Hope: The Christmas Story in Word and Art," a new DVD presentation that blends the school's extensive collection of the art of John August Swanson with the well-known biblical narrative of the Christmas story.

The 50-minute DVD presents the familiar story of Christmas as told in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. There are six seven-minute sections, or "chapters," each featuring a passage of scripture from the Christmas story and a work from Swanson's six-paneled "Birth Narrative," depicting the events surrounding the birth of Jesus: The Annunciation to Mary, The Nativity, The Shepherds, Epiphany, Presentation in the Temple, and the Flight into Egypt. In each chapter, members of Candler's faculty offer their insights on the scripture and the intersection of story and art.

Making "A Thrill of Hope"

"We knew that some of the most beautiful and impressive pieces in the Swanson collection here at Candler were the six panels that portray the biblical story of the birth of Jesus," says Thomas G. Long, Candler's Bandy professor of preaching and the originator of the project. "Then we came up with the idea that it would be a good expression of Candler's mission to use our resources-this art, the expertise of our biblical faculty -- to re-tell the Christmas story in a way that would be both inspiring and educational."

Designed for use in Sunday school classes, Bible studies and other church group gatherings, the DVD is accompanied by a participant study guide with suggested discussion questions, making it ideal for group Bible studies during Advent.

Long says the DVD offers a number of benefits to viewers.

"First, they will simply be moved once again by this great biblical story," he notes. "Second, because of John Swanson's artist's eye, they will see the story in a new way. Third, because of the probing insights of Candler's biblical scholars, they will learn new things about this old narrative."

Ordering Information

"A Thrill of Hope" sets, including the DVD and five participant discussion guides, are available for $30. To order the DVD or watch a video preview, visit

About Candler School of Theology

Candler School of Theology, Emory University, is an intellectually vital, internationally distinguished, and intentionally diverse university-based school of theology. Its mission is to educate faithful and creative leaders for the church's ministries in the world. Candler is dedicated to expanding knowledge of religion and theology, deepening spiritual life, strengthening the public witness of the churches, and building upon the breadth of Christian traditions, particularly the Wesleyan heritage, for the positive transformation of church and world. It is one of 13 United Methodist Church seminaries, and its enrollment includes more than 500 students from more than 50 denominations.


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