Film epics based on, or around, the events of the Bible are nothing new — from “Ben Hur
” and “The Ten Commandments
” to the more recent “Exodus: Gods and Kings
But cinematic treatments of the early church are rare.
“A.D.: The Bible Continues
,” a 12-part miniseries airing on NBC, follows the events immediately following Christ’s crucifixion.
Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the husband-and-wife team known for the TV shows “Survivor
” and “Touched by an Angel
,” continue what they began with the 2013 miniseries “The Bible
” and last year’s feature film, “Son of God
On TV | Grant Stevens
” is not a visual Bible. The writers take the basic timeline from the book of Acts
and add political intrigue. Burnett described it as being on par with the Netflix drama series “House of Cards
That’s a bit of an overstatement, perhaps, but I see what he means.
After Christ’s crucifixion, for example, we see Pilate and his wife engage in a series of encounters that become increasingly bitter. We know from the Gospel of Matthew
that she asked her husband to “have nothing to do with that innocent man” — and he ignored her. Bad idea.
Another example is the handling of the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea. The Gospel of Mark
tells us that Joseph was a member of the council (many suggest the Sanhedrin) and a secret follower of Jesus.
Eventually, he gathered up the courage to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body and buried it in his family’s tomb.
,” Joseph, the Jewish high priest Caiaphas and Pilate interact in a tangled web of politics, each vying for his agenda, with Pilate ultimately awarding the body to Joseph out of a desire to keep the Jews in a state of infighting. We don’t know what actually happened, but it’s easy to believe that there were intense political moves in play around Jesus’ death.
Being a Christian doesn’t give one permission to produce sub-par material, Burnett said at an advance screening of the first episode. As followers of Jesus, we should strive to do everything to the glory of God.
To that end, the first episode succeeds. Though made for TV, I found it to be polished and well produced.