This episode, titled ‘Brothers in Arms’ was true to the ‘spirit’ of the previous episodes, in that it was filled with mostly speculative accounts and at time outright falsehoods, probably in an attempt to get viewers interested in the account of the growth of the Christian church provided for us in the book of Acts. It seems to have been taken from Acts, Chapters 8 and 9. .
In its defense, It is commendable that there is an account of young women serving talking about Jesus and one of them (Tabitha) being led to believe in Jesus by another (Joanna). Not an account in the book of Acts, but nice to see.
We are introduced to James The Just (Jesus’ brother) early on in the episode, in a scene that shows a sleeping James having a dream about his boyhood in which he saw the boy Jesus teaching in the Synagogue , a story recorded in Luke, Chapter 2 (Jesus teaching in the synagogue when he was 12 years old). The dream account in A.D., as well as the other scenes including James are for the most part, are foreign to scripture.
We are also introduced to the Ethiopian eunuch, an actually character recorded in Acts, Chapter 8. The Acts account is of course much shorter than all of the drama surrounding him in A.D. In the Acts 8:26 – 40 account we are told that he was returning to his home country after having visited Jerusalem to worship when Phillip found him reading from the prophet Isaiah, explained the scriptures to him and subsequently baptized him. The A.D. episode provides us with all sorts of extra biblical information concerning the Ethiopian and his visit to Jerusalem that is also foreign to scripture.
We see Simon the Zealot, still fearful of Saul, contacting an old friend, a leader of the Jewish zealots who hated Rome, and ending up in a conspiracy to have Saul killed at the behest of Leah, Caiaphas’ wife, who felt that her husband was too ‘chicken’ to do what needed to be done. Again, not in the biblical record.
Of course we also are treated to more about Saul, his release from prison, Caiaphas attempt to get him to return to his former Jewish religion, his interaction with the disciples, and his finally departing Jerusalem. Saul again comes across as a bit arrogant in his dealings with the disciples again, seemingly ‘schooling’ them again concerning their mission as Jesus’ disciples. As in the last episode, he seems a bit arrogant and compassionless when it comes to the disciples. In a scene that has him preaching in the streets of Jerusalem, he tells his audience that Jesus offers a better life (Joel Osteen, anyone) and freedom from Roman tyranny We also hear bits and pieces of some of Paul’s teachings recorded in his other writings, but not the message that “Christ died for our sins”.
At the end of the episode Paul is departing Jerusalem, sent off (kicked out) by Peter, James having been deemed by James a danger to himself and other believers in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, Peter gives him a big hug at the ‘send off’ and tells him God has a bigger plan for him. In Acts 9, Saul was taken to Caesarea and sent to Tarsus because some of the Hellenists, against whom he had spoken and disputed, wanted to kill him.
In following A.D. I’ve also asked believers with whom I work or associate what they thought of the series and few have watched it, mostly due to so much being added to the biblical account. They seem to feel that being true to scripture is significant when dealing with the Bible. On the other hand, there is a host of leaders of some of today’s most notable ministries that really love the show. I’m not going to name names, but if you’re interested go here, scroll down and click the question “What are leaders saying about A.D. The Bible Continues?”. You can even get an official A.D. The Bible Continues ‘Church Kit’.
I’ll let you be the judge of that. And again, if there is a review of the latest episode over at Issues, Etc., I will post the link. J