And Season 1 Concludes…….
Where to begin? Apparently, from a Hollywood perspective, the concluding episode for Season 1 was successful because Season 2 is in the works. You can actually get an alert when the release date is announced. I think I will pass on that one.
As TV series’ often do in a season’s final episode, A.D. brought together several story lines. We see that Cornelius, who appeared at the Cross at the beginning of the series, is the Cornelius who becomes a believer in the final episode. Some of us probably saw that coming. We did see the angel’s appearance to Cornelius and Peter’s vision recorded in Acts, chapter 10. We see Peter at the home of Cornelius and a Pentecost type of appearance of the Holy Spirit, complete with some wind, tongues of fire and speaking in tongues. Cornelius is baptized after he confesses some of his sins. In the series he had killed Joanna and whipped Tabitha. In Acts, Chapter 10 however we are told that Cornelius worshipped God and was highly thought of by ‘all the Jewish people’. The series was disconnected from Biblical reality.
The other major plot in the TV episode concerns the statue of Caligula entering Jerusalem to be placed in the temple, opposition from the disciples, the Jewish priests, and zealots waiting on the parapets to ambush the Roman soldiers accompanying the statue. Cornelius, now a believer, is in charge of the Roman soldiers and confronts Peter in front of the temple. The disciples kneel before the roman contingent, the Priests, including Caiaphas kneel and offer their necks to the Romans. The Disciples and Cornelius recite the Lord’s Prayer and at the same time the priests recite a Jewish prayer from Psalm 57.
Everything surrounding the statue of Caligula is 99.999% pure fiction. Yes, Caligula did command that his statues be scattered throughout the Roman controlled world. Historians tell us that Jerusalem might be the only place Caligula’s statue did NOT appear.
A statue was built and dispatched to Jerusalem, but it never arrived. A newly elected leader of Syria, one Petronius, was charged with the delivery, NOT Cornelius. The statue made it as far as Ptolemais, a cosmopolitan port city in Galilee (70+ miles NW of Jerusalem). The Jewish outcry was tremendous, Jewish peasants revolted, and necks were offered to the Roman soldiers (the .001% accuracy?). The peasants also threatened to stop planting crops, which would have hurt the Roman economy. A letter was sent back to Rome to reconsider sending a statue to Jerusalem, and Caligula answered in another letter that Petronius would be executed if he didn’t deliver the statue. That letter never made it to Ptolemais due to really bad weather. Caligula was assassinated, the news of the assassination did reach Petronius (better weather), and the statue never made it to Jerusalem.
There is also a lot of dialogue amongst the disciples concerning being in the end times and the statue of Caligula being the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of in Matthew 24, and fear that the end of time and Christ’s return was imminent. In the episode, James the Just asked the big ‘what if it’s not’ question. None of that dialogue is actually recorded in the book of Acts, but I guess it made for good drama.
At the very end, Cornelius nearly flees Jerusalem with Pilate’s wife, who earlier had an ‘almost’ knock down drag out with her husband. The setup for the beginning of next season is a Roman soldier drawing a sword against Peter, leaving us in suspense.
The Issues, Etc. review, found here, is interesting and informative. Lutheran Pastor Ted Giese is asked to rate the series from a secular perspective and from a Pastor’s theological perspective. I liked his answers but will leave you in suspense, with a desire to listen to the interview.
Having said all that, I am not sure if I will watch and comment on the next season. I watched this season mostly in order to be able to engage in discussion(s) about it with both believers and nonbelievers. I never did overhear a discussion about any of the series that I could join. When I asked other believers if they were watching, most were not. They had no interest in what they knew was mostly conjecture and fiction. I did benefit personally by rereading certain portions of Acts, just to make sure I wasn’t being too critical. Digging into historical sources was also beneficial.
My main beef with the producers is having called it ‘The Bible Continues’. All Scripture is inspired (breathed out) by God…. (2 Timothy 3:16), not Hollywood. They could have just called it ‘Left Behind – The Book of Acts’.