Reviewed by: Karen Flores
Is Jesus Christ a man, or is he God? Answer
If Jesus is God, how could he die? If Jesus died on the cross, then how can he be alive today? Answer
Was Jesus Christ God, manifest in human form? Answer
Is Jesus Christ really God? Answer
If Jesus was the Son of God, why did He call Himself the Son of Man? Answer
“The Jesus Seminar”—Are their criticisms of the gospels valid? Answer
Was Jesus Christ only a legend? Answer
Archaeology—Have any burial sites been found for the people involved in Christ’s life and death? Answer
brutal Roman oppression
Herod and family
disseminating the teachings of Christ to the world
How do we know the Bible is true? Answer
When we say that the Bible is the Word of God, does that imply that it is completely accurate, or does it contain insignificant inaccuracies in details of history and science? Answer
Is the Bible truth or tabloid? Answer
INTERNAL HARMONY—Answers to a skeptic’s questions about whether the Bible’s internal harmony is truly evidence of its divine inspiration—Read
|Featuring:||Juan Pablo Di Pace … Jesus
Farzana Dua Elahe … Joanna
George Georgiou … Boaz
Marama Corlett … Tabitha
Aniss Elkohen … Philip
Jim Sturgeon … Chuza
Dan Cade … Cassius
Alex Lanipekun … Asher
Joe Dixon … Philip the Evangelist
Lonyo Engele … Angel
Oliver Walker … Maximus Appius
Andrew Gower … Caligula
|Distributor:||National Broadcasting Company (NBC)|
“The crucifixion was only the beginning.”
Prequel: “The Bible: The Epic Miniseries” (2013)
The series starts off in the last chapter of the Gospel of John. It begins with the continuing theme of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the disciples returning to Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit. The Roman and Jewish authorities attempt to destroy any hint of a belief that there is a resurrected Messiah. The Romans are murdering anyone who guarded the tomb of Jesus, and the high priest is paying off the family member of a murdered temple guard.
In the meantime, Herod and his wife arrive in Jerusalem for Pentecost, only to find an increase in Roman soldiers. When Herod presents his disdain for the abundance of Roman soldiers to Pilate, he responds by telling Herod that he will go to the Pentecost festivals at the temple. Pilate does not trust Herod or the Jewish high priest Caiaphas, and vice versa. As Pilate goes to the temple, events occur: the Holy Spirit comes down, the crowd becomes riotous, and people are stabbed, beaten, and killed. It seems as if Pilate’s answer to every problem is kill them all.
The “A.D.” series is a strong and compelling story about the development of the early Christian church. It attempts to recapture the book of Acts. It takes some artistic liberties which may have some Christians concerned, because those liberties are not following the Bible word for word. Each episode builds upon the next, and each has a lot of twists and intrigue which had me hanging on the edge of my seat, at times.
Artistic liberties in the first episode include:
Peter has a daughter. The Bible is silent about Peter’s children.
The show is deemed TV-14 “V” for the violence. There are slashing of throats and stabbings. Blood is shown on the floor and in stabbings. The zealots and Pilate’s thirst for killing makes for an exciting watch on TV, but these are areas the Bible does not talk about.
This series is for older teenagers to adults. There is no nudity or profanity or cursing in the show. However, one or two commercials had language in them that I thought was profane. I recommend the series, but certainly read the book of Acts as well.
The story continues with Pilate still bloodthirsty for the man who attempted to assassinate him. Since the Jewish zealot murdered a Roman soldier, Pilate orders the death of ten Jews per day until the killer is identified by his fellow kinsmen. As he salivates at the idea of killing the Jews, Pilate primarily wants the assassin caught, because the zealot attempted to murder him.
In the meantime, Peter and John are released from jail. They continue to preach the message of the resurrected Christ. The early church is growing. People are getting healed, hearing the Good News about Jesus, and joining the believers. People from different socioeconomic backgrounds come into the flock daily. The story of Ananias and Sapphira is in this episode, as well. The Jewish zealot who killed the Roman soldier is still at large.
Parents, please be advised that this movie is rated TV-14 “V,” which means no one less than 14 years old should watch, and it is extremely violent. This rating is accurate, because there is so much blood and killings in the show. In fact, I would recommend age 16 years and older. This program has a lot of scenes that show uncomfortable situations that would frighten any young child.
Once again, my major concern, aside from the extreme violence, is the artistic liberties that the creators take in this program. The artistic liberties that would concern any Christian are the fact that this information is not found in the Bible.
Artistic liberties include:
The story of Barnabas comes after the story of Ananias and Sapphira
The lame man who was healed at the Temple gate is paid to lie and say that he could always walk.
Overall, the episode is compelling and very interesting to watch. Hopefully, in future episodes, the creators will bring more depth to Pilate than just the one-dimensional aspect of wanting to kill the people.
I would highly recommend reading the book of Acts to get a truly accurate account of the story.
In episode 5, Pilate’s appetite lingers on killing the Jews until the zealot, Boaz, surrenders to him. Boaz was the man who murdered the Roman soldier. Pilate decides to torture him for his crime. In the meantime, the disciples get arrested for preaching about Jesus. More converts are added to their numbers. The disciples are put on trial, and lastly Stephen is stoned to death and becomes the first martyr.
This episode shows a strong contrast between the violence of Rome and the peacefulness of the disciples’ camp. It shows, through the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, how the disciples show love, acceptance, and forgiveness to all who come to Jesus. People are finding refuge in the camp of the disciples. The disciples are persecuted outside of the group, but are comforted when they return.
The episodes of “A.D.” so far have shown a contrast between the violence of Rome and the peace and serenity of the Christian camp. The difficulty is the artistic liberties that are taken throughout the series and deleting of parts of Scripture or changing the sequence of how the story is told in the Bible.
On the positive side, the episode exalts the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus is talked about in the episode. You can see how the people are coming to know Him as Lord and Savior. It shows the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ, and the power of forgiveness. People are accepted as they are. These are all qualities of Christ, and it is clear in the episode.
On the negative side, the episode has violence. A man is tortured with a hot iron. Pilate stabs a man. Stephen is stoned. However, there is no sex or cursing.
Artistic liberties include
Stephen’s character is portrayed inaccurately.
In episode 6 the disciples bury their friend Stephen who was stoned to death in the last episode. In the meantime, Caiaphas father-in-law and brother-in-law plot to have him removed as high priest. They want the brother-in-law to replace Caiaphas. They enlist another member of the Sanhedrin to join with them in their treachery. All three end up before Pilate, and he decides their fate by tossing a coin.
Throughout this ordeal, Caiaphas tries to quiet the followers of Jesus Christ. The disciples go into Jerusalem and share the good news about Jesus to others. Saul walks into the Christian camp spewing words of hatred towards Jesus and His followers.
Saul shows disgust for the Christians. Every attempt that he makes to get rid of them fails. He becomes more enraged. Caiaphas is pleased that Saul is determined to eliminate the believers. Caiaphas is looking to improve his standing in the eyes of the Sanhedrin and Pilate. Thus, Caiaphas stamps his seal of approval upon Saul’s actions against the Christians. He goes throughout Jerusalem beating the followers and even destroying their camp, causing the believers to flee.
This episode appears to not follow the Bible. The speeches of Paul and Peter are not found in the Bible. This plot against the high priest is not found in the Bible, unless there is a historical reference. Pilate deciding who should be the high priest is not found in Scripture. None of these scenes are actually from the Bible.
As I watched this episode, I realized that all that happened was to help Saul’s cause of eradicating the Christians. The Bible does state that Saul made murderous threats and schemes against many believers. The idea in this episode is to help the audience see how much Saul has a hatred for Jesus’ disciples and their followers. The close up shots of Saul show his anger. His eyes looked wide and wild. He yells and screams how these people are going against the temple by speaking about a false Messiah. I felt the disgust that this man had for the believers. The episode did a good job in making audience feel the passion Saul had for the temple.
The screenwriters took a lot of artistic liberties in this episode, due to the fact that there is little information in the Bible about Saul until his conversion. This chapter in the “A.D.” series was more about the development of one character, Saul. Read the Bible to understand what actually happened.
The episode is violent, but there is no blood shed except at the beginning seeing Stephen’s dead body.
Emperor Tiberius and his nephew Caligula come to Jerusalem. Pilate is nervous as to why is the emperor coming. When he arrives, Tiberius wants to speak to all who are associated with leadership in the land including Herod.
In the meantime, Caiaphas asks Saul to stop arresting Christians by order of Pilate while Tiberius is in Jerusalem. Saul refuses to cease and presses on in his search for Peter and the others. Many believers continue to hide underground in different homes. Others choose to leave Jerusalem. Philip decides to go to Samaria and preach the gospel there. Mary Magdalene gets a job working as a servant in Pilate’s estate. As Saul is terrorizing them, the Christians are dispersing to other towns and cities, or they are hiding beneath the floor of people’s houses.
The anxiety is high. Pilate is extremely afraid about his position in Jerusalem. He does not know if he will remain the governor. He elicits Caiaphas’ help in vouching for him. Herod makes his case as to why he should make a better ruler for Jerusalem. The entire episode is full of pressure, either with the Christians or with Pilate.
This episode shows drama, but the artistic liberties are more extreme than the previous episode. Tiberius going to Jerusalem is historically inaccurate, because, in his latter days, he lived on an island and hardly left it. In Episode 6, Caiaphas’ brother-in-law, Jonathan, tries to get Caiaphas’ position as high priest. No one knows about a plot to remove Caiaphas, but it is historically accurate that Jonathan becomes the next high priest after Caiaphas. If you want to site a chapter and verse from the Bible where any of the scenes in this show can be found, it is not possible.
Episode 7 tells about Philip meeting Simon the sorcerer. It reveals how Simon portrayed himself as having this great magic and could perform these magnificent feats. Philip saw him as a charlatan. When Philip heals a woman in the name of Jesus, Simon decides to convert to Christianity along with many others in the village he duped. Simon even gets baptized, thinking that if he became a Christian, he will have the “magic” to heal others the way Philip did. Acts 8 does talk of Philip’s encounter with Simon the sorcerer.
The violence is very hard to stomach at times.
People getting whipped and blood spewing out of their mouths
A man being strangled to death
A man beaten by robbers
A man’s hand being cut with a knife
Finally, I must say that it is best that anyone who watches this series should read the book of Acts in order to get an accurate account of the story. This series is a historical fiction. I would say that it gives a good performance of what the nature might have been in that time period. I feel the ambivalence that Caiaphas feels being the Jewish high priest and trying to appease Pilate also. I see how angry Saul is towards the believers. I sense the love among the believers and the power of the Holy Spirit. For these reasons, it makes for a good viewing for older teenagers and adults.
The story of Philip and Simon the sorcerer continues. It also lingers on about Saul’s rampage to find Peter and the other believers in Damascus. Once Saul leaves the city, Peter and John depart to Samaria to assist Philip. As Philip baptizes many converts, Peter and John heal them through the Holy Spirit. Simon the sorcerer wants to buy this power. When Peter states the Lord cannot be bought, blood oozes out of Simon’s eyes and mouth.
While traveling on the road to Damascus, Jesus knocks Saul to his knees and blinds him. His companions take him to a house on Straight Street, where he waits for instructions from the Lord. Through the prompting of Jesus, Ananias goes to Saul to lay hands on him to open his eyes. Saul gets baptized and starts to preach the gospel of Jesus.
I want to share that once again, I see a strong comparison of conversion from episode 7 to 8. In the former, we see Simon the sorcerer’s conversion; in the latter, we see Saul’s. Simon’s change is insincere. He saw that the power that Philip, Peter, and John had was greater than his magic. Simon was a business man. He wanted to make lots of money in his shows, even if it was by trickery. He never had a repentant heart. He only wanted to buy the power to have people stand in awe of himself. He had no desire to give God the glory.
In contrast to Simon the sorcerer, Saul’s conversion is genuine. Saul proclaims the name of Jesus the minute that he receives his sight. Ananias baptizes him, and then Saul goes to the temple to preach the Good News. Saul was a man who was so against the believers and Jesus that his eyes are truly opened once the scales were removed. Saul admits that he was wrong. He recognizes what Peter and the other are talking about. He now knows what his true purpose is in life.
This episode provides a powerful visual of Saul’s conversion to Christianity. Artistic liberties include:
The questionable scenes are:
There is a slight nude scene at the beginning of the show. A woman’s bare back can be seen, as well as a man’s bare chest.
A man suffocates another man with a pillow.
Blood comes out of a man’s eyes and mouth.
In episode 9, the new Emperor Caligula leaves a parting gift to Jerusalem of a statue of himself, to be placed in the Jewish temple. Everyone knows that such an act is desecration and would result in riots, but all of the leaders fear Caligula and none wishes to challenge him. For the remainder of the episode, Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod and their wives try to figure out how they can avoid the statue from coming into the temple.
Meanwhile, the disciples are not very trusting of Saul. They all think that his conversion is a ruse. As a result of Barnabas’ recommendation, Saul walks among the believers. None of the disciples believe that he has truly converted. Peter takes him in a back room to see if his conversion is genuine. Also, the temple guards are in hot pursuit of Saul. Caiaphas’ wife wants him found and killed in front of the people to make an example of him. Caiaphas just wants to talk to Saul.
Artistic liberties include:
The Roman Emperor coming to Jerusalem: This visit is neither a historical fact nor Biblical fact. There are many stories that Herod went to Rome and ate with Roman Emperors, but never the reverse.
Caiaphas’ wife, Pilate’s wife, and Herod’s wife are all friends and having their own meeting to see how they can help their husbands’ problems.
Mary Magdalene and Johanna are not mentioned in the book of Acts.
Peter interviews Saul to determine if his conversion is real.
Caiaphas’ wife being so heavily involved in the high priest’s affairs.
My struggle with this episode was in regard to Caiaphas’ wife, Leah. She seems quite obsessed with giving her opinion and telling the temple guards what to do. She feels as if Saul betrayed them and wants to make a spectacle of him. None of this behavior is appropriate for a high priest’s wife. She has no authority to make decisions and yet, she is given power to do so. I have never read anywhere in Scripture that the high priest’s wife has the authority to tell the temple guards what to do. I do want to point out that there is a sharp contrast between her and Pilate’s wife, Claudia. I do not understand why the kind and compassionate person is the Roman’s wife, while the conniving and ruthless person is the Jewish high priest’s wife. The creators are portraying the religious people as undesirable and the worldly people as caring. This is the reason I am uncomfortable with Leah.
Overall, the episode has a few disturbing moments that parents need to be aware of:
A person stabbing himself
Implications that a woman was raped
A man being drugged
A woman praying to a statue
This episode is only for older teens and adults, however there is no nudity or profanity.
In episode 10, Saul is still in prison. An Ethiopian eunuch comes to Jerusalem. James, the brother of Jesus, comes to see the disciples. After hearing of Saul’s imprisonment, James volunteers to talk to the high priest about releasing Saul. The high priest talks to Saul and releases him. When James speaks to the high priest, he is too late because Saul is already released. This act infuriates Leah, Caiaphas’ wife. She plots to have the zealots kill Saul. The zealots and the Ethiopians are plotting insurrection against Rome.
Meanwhile in Pilate’s house, Mary Magdalene and Joanna talk to a young servant named Tabitha about Jesus. Herodias, Herod’s wife, and Claudia, Pilate’s wife, catch them proselytizing and dismiss them from their positions. However, Pilate learned of this proselytizing and has Tabitha beaten in front of the Ethiopian eunuch and Joanna thrown in jail. Claudia says nothing about Mary. The story ends with Joanna sentenced to die, and Mary brings Tabitha to the disciples’ hiding place.
This episode shows how the disciples have the power and love of Jesus. They accept Saul into their family by calling him their brother. Simon the zealot does not betray Saul after he recognizes that Saul’s conversion is genuine. I truly appreciate how the believers continue to love one another and unite together even to help Saul.
My greatest issue is the contrast between Leah, Caiaphas’ wife and Claudia, Pilate’s wife. Leah’s character acts in a manner that is unbefitting a high priest’s wife. She chooses to push her husband to kill Saul. When her husband will not cooperate with her idea, she goes to the streets of Jerusalem in order to find the head zealot. She aligns herself with the zealots in making deals with them so that they can carry out her desires of killing Saul.
On the other hand, Claudia helps her husband. She is calm and diplomatic. She speaks to her husband in a soothing and caring manner. After Pilate flogs Tabitha, Claudia brings money and medicine to Mary Magdalene and Tabitha. Claudia begs them to leave the palace at once and to take the money. She advocates for Joanna’s release. She has more compassion than the religious leader’s wife. She acts more like a Christian or a Jew than her counterpart.
These two women represent the artistic liberties that I have mentioned previously. The wife of a high priest would not remain so involved in her husband’s affairs. She would not plan how to kill a fellow Jew in order to thwart her husband’s decision. Pilate’s wife attempting to keep diplomacy with her husband’s guests does not represent a Roman wife either. The women during this time and area of the world are to keep house and care for the children. They are not so heavily involved in the affairs of their husband. Leah’s and Claudia’s behaviors are too modern for this time period.
Once again, this episode is for older teens to adults. The Roman beating of Tabitha is not graphic, but a viewer can see her pain and suffering. Also, I highly recommend watching this series for the life it brings to some of the stories in Acts, but read the book in order to get the truth.
In the eleventh episode, the high priest addresses the Sanhedrin and the people in the temple, because the statue of Emperor Caligula is coming. No doubt everyone, including the Sanhedrin, is very upset about its arrival. He states that he does not want to see such an abomination come through the holy walls. All the Jews are stirred by his speech and want action. The zealots continue to meet in secret places to discuss the new weapons they received from the Ethiopian eunuch. The zealots discover that a temple guard is spying on them and hears of their plans and sees their weapons. They attempt to drag him to the desert in order to kill him, but he escapes and returns to Caiaphas and Leah.
He tells them of the zealots’ plans, now that they have Ethiopian weapons. Leah wants to tell Pilate about this to stop the rebellion, but Caiaphas refuses to tell. Leah secretly goes to Claudia who presents her to Pilate. She betrays Caiaphas, her husband.
Learning of the Ethiopian eunuch’s role in aiding in the zealots’ rebellion, Pilate strips the Ethiopian eunuch of his wardrobe and servants, but allows him to leave with just his clothes on his back and the scroll that the high priest gave him. The Ethiopian leaves Jerusalem humiliated with a two horse chariot. While in the desert, Philip explains the Scriptures that he reads from the scroll, and the Ethiopian accepts Jesus as his Savior. As he is baptized, Philip disappears.
Claudia has empathy for Joanna and begs constantly for Pilate to release her. He refuses. So, she takes it upon herself to release her from prison. Cornelius catches Claudia and brings her to Pilate who has Joanna killed in front of Claudia.
This episode has a lot of Biblical strengths. The thread of the story of Acts is involved in the midst of the chaos that is about to ensue. I realize that the creators are trying to portray an image of how the disciples fit in the middle of all the political unrest and treachery. The problem that I have had throughout this series is the inaccuracies. I know that there was a zealot rebellion several years after the book of Acts was written, but the events that they are showing in this series are not how it happened. My guess is, since there are no documents as to what actually caused the rebellion, the creators decided to create a tale.
I want to point out that Claudia has strong compassion on the Christian woman in jail. Leah is oozing with betrayal. Once again, the woman who is considered the heathen represents kindness and compassion. The woman who is the religious leader represents cunning and deception.
This episodes shows how the power of forgiveness can change a person’s life. Forgiveness is clearly the theme. From the Ethiopian eunuch to Cornelius, the Roman soldier, they are all forgiven in this episode. Forgiveness changed each person’s heart.
This episode is too violent for young children.
In episode 12, the disciples learn that the statue of Caligula is coming. The High Priest is at Pilate’s palace explaining his opposition to the statue. At the same time, Peter is called to tell the Roman soldier, Cornelius, about the good news of Jesus. Cornelius and his whole family get filled with the Holy Spirit.
Unfortunately, Cornelius and his assigned group of Roman soldiers must march the statue up to the temple. The High Priest and the Sanhedrin stand at the temple doors. The people stand to block the Romans’ path. The zealots are armed and ready for battle. Everyone, but Pilate and his wife, are at the temple. After the zealots’ attack ceases, the story ends with the audience wondering what will happen next.
Once again, the historical inaccuracy is the governor at the time of the arrival of the statue was Petronius. Caligula had Pilate removed. The statue never made it to the temple.
This last episode comes with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is neat to see how every Jew banded together: the disciples, the High Priest with the Sanhedrin, the zealots and the people of Jerusalem. However, the opposite feeling occurs when the show ends with a Roman soldier wanting Peter to come to Pilate’s palace. The episode causes the audience to wonder what will happen next and how are the Romans going to deal with the problem of the statue? It leaves more questions than answers.
This episode has a great deal of violence. There are people getting slashed, stabbed, and shot by a bow and arrow. I recommend that only older teens and adults view this episode.
“AD: The Bible Continues” is supposed to represent the book of Acts. It tells the audience about the life and times of the disciples after the crucifixion. The creators of this series explain many of the events in Acts differently than the Bible; even the historical accounts are erroneous. However, it does show the audience what the environment might have looked like during that era.
Throughout this series, the Christians always appear to have peace, love, and joy. There is forgiveness and acceptance the entire time among the believers. Someone told me that the inaccuracies are not what is important, but rather the message the series portrays. The messages of love and forgiveness are the backbone of a Christian’s walk. This series clearly portrays that message. Finally, read the book of Acts to find out what really happened to the disciples.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…“A.D.” sequel will satisfy “Bible” fans… a straightforward and sincere retelling of the Crucifixion with no doubts, no revisions that might offend the faithful, and no attempt to explain away the miracles. …
—Robert Bianco, USA Today
…while some may say that “A.D. The Bible Continues” is hardly perfect—and they'd be right—Focus on the Family president Jim Daly enthusiastically says (in a promotional video for the miniseries), “I believe that God is using these adaptations of Scripture to touch the hearts and to call people to Himself.”
—Paul Asay, Plugged In
… The production is chintzy, the acting is too broad or too earnest. The writing dotes on emotions and lacks sophistication. … [C-]
—Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly
…A Biblically accurate adventure with a diverse cast…
—Sami K. Martin, Christian Post
…Not the greatest version of the greatest story ever told… the series is, for the most part, really boring…
—Amy Amatangelo, The Hollywood Reporter
…populated by fine British actors, but feels less stirring than calculated. …Handsomely mounted and soaringly scored by Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, what “A.D.” lacks is anything that would distinguish it from earlier screen depictions of this tale, beyond extending the narrative past Jesus’ death to the establishment of Christianity in the face of Roman oppression. …
—Brian Lowry, Variety
…“A.D.’s” depiction of Christianity’s birth is more political thriller than swords-and-sandals epic… the disciples are the stars…
—Patrick Kevin Day, The Los Angeles Times