Looking for a great new TV series to watch this spring? My husband and I attended a preview of the first episode of the upcoming series, A.D. The Bible Continues. Producing team Roma Downey and Mark Burnett were there to talk about their vision for the series. The first series The Bible which broadcasted in 2013 on The History Channel received more than 100 million cumulative views and received three Emmy Award nominations.
The Bible Continues is a 12-week series which will be aired on NBC beginning on Easter Sunday night, April 5, 2015. Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Ark. and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, notes, “A.D. is biblically-based, historically-supported and creatively-integrated as an epic story that will captivate generations globally. This drama is powerful, engaging, and INTENSE!”
The first episode of The Bible Continues includes the last moments of the Crucifixion, Judas taking his own life after betraying Christ, Peter denying Jesus and the Resurrection. Subsequent episodes will chronicle “A.D.”, the rise of the early Church associated with enormous faith, persecution, political intrigue, Roman oppression and the desperate Jewish revolt. The story is told through the eyes of the Apostles, Pilate, and Caiaphas. The majority of the content is from Acts 1- 10. The series will conclude with the conversion of Cornelius and will serve as the starting point for Season 2.
The series was filmed in Morocco. Downey said the set which included the temple and the city of Jerusalem was so extensive between the buildings, animals and hundreds of extras that she got lost at one point. She noted that the content was “lovingly researched to be historically accurate.” It was important to the producers to recruit an international cast, and they stressed the importance of diversity.
Burnett noted that we live in a day when many are biblically illiterate, and he hoped the series would draw in those who desire to learn about the Bible and those who are searching for spiritual direction in their lives. Downey described the film as “a great TV moment” and “a cinematic experience to be enjoyed in your living room.”
While this first episode remained true to the Biblical account, there was some creative freedom taken to portray some of the events, as is common in many Bible-based movies. In an effort to be inclusive, a cast from a variety of ethnic backgrounds was represented. For instance, John and Mary Madeleine are played by Africans. Paul is played by an Irishman. Of course, we know that most of the apostles were Jews from Galilee.
Also, darkness fell at the point of Jesus’ death, and the Bible states from Matthew 27:45 that darkness fell from the sixth until the ninth hour while Jesus was on the cross. In the episode, Caiaphas and his wife witnessed the curtain of the temple in the Holy of Holies tear in two when we know that only Levite priests were allowed in the temple proper.
One of the beauties of this series is that the executive producers partnered with Outreach to develop resources to help churches use this series as an outreach tool to the community. Check out www.shareadtheseries.com or www.outreach.com/AD. In addition to a Study and Guidebook, Scriptural reference guide, and Viewing Part Kit, many promotional materials are available. A church kit including sermons, access to streaming video clips that correspond with the sermons, planning guide and more is available.
I highly recommend the series. The quality is as good as any motion picture. The acting is excellent, and the character development shows a depth of emotion and life experience that we don’t see in other portrayals. Flyovers above the city of Jerusalem added to the special effects and creative cinematography.
Parents should note that some scenes are hard to watch, and while they are true to the Bible, they are violent and would not be suited for young children. Whether you are familiar with the Bible or not, I encourage you to watch. Read for yourself the verses that correspond to each episode and gain a whole new appreciation for the birth and rise of the church. The greatest story ever told is still the greatest story ever told!
Photo credit: NBC