By John Hanlon
Although it’s sometimes difficult to imagine (especially for those who haven’t visited the Holy Land), many of the places Jesus visited thousands of years ago are available for anyone to visit and experience today. That fact is one of the key takeaways of the new film Route 60: The Biblical Highway. Featuring former U.S. Ambassador David Friedman (who served as Ambassador to Israel under President Trump) and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the documentary shows the two leaders travelling through some of the historical sites featured in the Bible.
The feature's name comes from the route itself, which dissects Israel. The highway, which runs from Nazareth to Beersheba, passes by some of the most well-known locations from the Bible. The two stars of the film here stop in some of these locations and recount some of the Biblical stories with Friedman offering thoughts from a Jewish perspective while Pompeo offers a Christian point-of-view.
Although Friedman and Pompeo are the stars here, director Matthew Crouch keeps his focus on the Biblical history here, ensuring that the stories remain at the forefront. One of the best elements of the story is that when certain Biblical passages are discussed, the lines of text from the good book appear onscreen, reminding viewers where these stories are featured (if audiences want to read about them in depth) and the specific details from them.
Pompeo and Friedman are the physical guides here but it’s the Old and the New Testament that shine the most light on these passages.
It helps that Friedman (and to a lesser extent, Pompeo) interweave personal stories into the discussions. For instance, while visiting Rachel's tomb in Bethlehem (a place commemorating the maternal figure from the Bible) Friedman discusses the contemporary loss of his cousin’s fiancé (who was murdered by a suicide bomber) and how that loss is evident at the tomb. A curtain — made of her wedding dress — is on display at the historical site.
It is stories like these that show how these invaluable historical sites are actively still serving as places of value and importance in the lives of so many.
Both Pompeo and Friedman served under Former President Donald Trump and both do mention the value of the Abraham Accords and some events from that administration. Some might see these brief chats as too overtly political for a film about a biblical road. However, these contemporary events are only briefly mentioned here and oftentimes in a much larger context about faith.
To its great credit, the producers here are more interested in topics of faith than they are in exploring recent political events.
Route 60: The Biblical Highway is a travel film that focuses in on stories from the Bible so its audience will likely be composed of Christians and those in the Jewish community. For that audience, the documentary does a strong job showing some of the real-life communities depicted in the Good Book and reminding viewers how faith and our relationship with God can continue to play a major role in our lives.
Route 60: The Biblical Highway will be in theaters nationwide on September 18th and 19th.