I’ve now endured the second episode of A.D. I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. The same big problem that plagued episode 1, also plagued the second episode: so many additions to the historical narrative.
The Bible has four, (four!) gospel accounts. That really ought to be enough source material to work with to tell an accurate and compelling story about Jesus Christ and the birth of Christianity. Yet, once again the makers of A.D. insisted on making up scene after scene, including angry Pilate confronting Caiphas while he (Caiphas) was bathing. I really wish I was kidding. In interviews, Mark Burnett has compared it to several popular shows and movies (Game of Thrones, House of Cards and Gladiator).
The real, true, historical story of Jesus and God’s amazing grace is the most exciting plot line in all of human history and Roma Downey and Mark Burnett seem to think that it needed embellishing with additional scenes. If you have to add to it, perhaps the problem is you don’t understand it?
If they bothered to read the gospels and the book of Acts before making this show they clearly paid very little attention to them. There appears to be very little attempt to render it faithfully. That does not surprise me given who made the television show. Roma Downey is a New Ager, who has blended that with some Christian-type ideas. Such syncretism is not Christianity. Read Sunny Shell’s fantastic review of A.D. theological problems for more on that.
Another thing that was frustrating was the way this episode also continued to get the sequences and specifics of events wrong. Mary Magdalene didn’t go to the tomb alone, she went with the other women — not to see if the tomb was empty, but to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. In fact, they wondered who would roll the stone away. Yes, there was another instance where she is alone in the garden weeping and meets Jesus. On A.D., the first visit is wrong (she is alone) and one the second she is in the tomb weeping when Jesus meets her.
The Emmaus Road encounter from Luke 24 was skipped entirely, which is significant because in the biblical account the two disciples who encountered Jesus there went and told the rest of the disciples Jesus was alive. But they were not believed. It was only after that event that Jesus appeared to all of them except Thomas in a room in Jerusalem.
In A.D.’s mixed up version Jesus appears twice in the room in Jerusalem to everyone but Thomas, then again when Thomas is there. There is no clear delineation of time passing. It appears to be happening all within the same day, even though John 20 makes it clear Jesus appeared a week later and that time Thomas was there.
A.D. also invents a dramatic chase scene where the Roman guards are coming after the disciples, who then flee Jerusalem and go back to Galilee to resume fishing, where Jesus meets them again.
For some unknown reason the writers changed Jesus’ words from John 21 where he asks Peter if he loves him. Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me?” (The same number of times Peter denied knowing Jesus.) Each time Peter says yes and Jesus responds the first time, “Feed my lambs,” the second time “tend my sheep,” and the third time “feed my sheep.” After this Jesus tells Peter what price he will pay, “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
On A.D., Jesus responds the third time by telling Peter to “follow me.” I can’t think of a reason why.
There are many other instances recorded in the Bible about Jesus appearing in front of believers between the time he rose from the grave and his ascension (roughly 40 days later). Those were not mentioned or referenced in any way.
The episode ends with the ascension of Jesus complete with the reappearance of several ninja angels. Again, A.D. fails to give any indication that this happened much later. Watching it, it seemed to happen the very same day or possibly the next, but certainly not 40 days after Jesus had appeared time and time again.
For these reasons I have to seriously disagree with the writer at The Christian Post who claimed that the series “continues to stay true to Scripture.”
From the preview of episode three it appears next week Peter will become a great “Purpose Driven Leader,” like the many PDLs of The Bible (on History Channel). By making The Bible a series of stories about Purpose Driven Leaders, the original series completely missed the point of the Bible, which is in fact ALL about Jesus. The book of Acts isn’t about Peter. It’s about Jesus. But it appears likely A.D. will continue down this path and make Peter the story instead.
I think that guess is pretty well founded since Roma Downey told CBN the show was “the story of these 12 disciples and how they brought down the Roman Empire.”
Funny, when I read the gospels, that isn’t what I see at all. I see Jesus (the second person of the Trinity) willingly choosing to die at the hands of evil men, successfully crushing Satan, paying for my sins and yours, defeating death and the grave and offering forgiveness and freedom to those who place their faith in Him. I see grace, not Game of Thrones.