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AD: The Bible Continues
Review of Episode Five
By Gary F. Zeolla
This review is continued from AD: The Bible Continues: Review of Episode Four. But before getting to the review of Episode Five, let me go back and point out a mistake that was depicted in Episode Four that I missed before. I noticed it while watching “Billy Graham Classics” on TBN. In his excellent sermon, Reverend Graham quotes Acts 4:36-37, “36Now Joses, the one having been surnamed Barnabas by the apostles (which is, having been translated, Son of Encouragement), a Levite, a Cyprian by race, 37a field being his, having sold [it], brought the money and placed [it] at the feet of the apostles.”
In Episode Four, Barnabas is depicted as giving a plot of land to the early Church. Peter and the rest of the early Christians then set up a camp on that land, with all of them living in tents. And that encampment figures prominently in Episode Five. But read the above verses carefully. Barnabas did not donate LAND to the early Church. He SOLD the land and donated the proceeds, the MONEY to the Church. Thus there was no land and thus no place for the early Christians to set up these supposed tents. Moreover, nowhere in the Book of Acts does it say the early Christians were living in tents. That is just a dramatic concept cooked up in the minds of the writers.
That said, I have previously said I think this miniseries should be called AD: The Biblical Novel Continues. But I think I would like to change that to, AD: The Graphic Violence Continues, as that is what this series has become about; how graphically it can portray both Biblical and made up violent scenes.
First Half of Episode
The first half of Episode Five is wrapped up once again with Pilate’s continuing attempt to find Boaz, his alleged attempted assassin. Ten Jewish men are being rounded up each day and crucified until Boaz is handed over. But now, Pilate in his wrath is ordering that ten Jewish women be crucified. The early Church steps in and starts an “Underground Railroad” of sorts and secretly is bringing potential victims into its camp.
Meanwhile, Boaz is found hiding out in the Christians’ camp. In the previous episode, it seemed that Boaz did not stay due to being told he had to repent. But he is there now, and after much ado, Boaz is convinced to turn himself in. When he does, Pilate proceeds to torture him. First he stabs him with a dagger and twists it while it is still in his chest, while saying, “You killed my guard quickly, but I will kill you slowly, over six days.”
The scene now moves outside, and Boaz is being strung up on a cross, and soldiers begin branding him with hot irons. At that point, in disgust, I hit the “Fast Forward” button on my remote and skipped over the rest of the scene and the following commercials. I stopped fast forwarding after the commercial break. At that point, Boaz now has an arrow in him, and Pilate is in a tizzy because he wasn’t able to torture Boaz for a week like he had desired to do. Apparently, someone killed Boaz to put him out of his misery.
We are now 30 minutes into the episode, and everything that has been depicted NEVER HAPPENED! Excuse me for shouting. But I find it exasperating that I was subjected to half an hour of senseless graphic violence that had nothing to do whatsoever with the early Church and that has no Biblical basis. Think about it; if the early Christians were harboring a fugitive and setting up an Underground Railroad to help potential victims escape, don’t you think Luke would have mentioned it? But he does not. Thus all of this senseless graphic violence is pure fiction that was concocted in the sick minds of the writers, just as all fictional TV violence is.
Second Half of Episode
Moving on to the second half of the episode, after the death of Boaz, Peter and Caiaphas are standing beside each other before the body, which is still hanging on the cross, and they begin to sing a Psalm together. This scene is very strange as in the next one Caiaphas has Peter and the rest of the apostles arrested and thrown into prison. I simply did not understand how the one scene followed the other, but I do know the first was pure fiction, while the latter at least has some Biblical basis to it.
While in prison, Peter and the rest of the apostles are delivered from prison by an angel. This whole scenario does occur (Acts 5:17-21), but it is after Luke reports about many miracles being performed by the apostles (Acts 5:12-16). But I guess depicting those Biblical miracles would take time away from the depiction of all of the fictional graphic violence.
Caiaphas then brings the apostles in again and charges them with blasphemy for continuing to preach about what he calls “a false prophet” and pronounces a death sentence upon them. In the Book of Acts, Peter now gives an excellent one-paragraph speech that is omitted (Acts 5:29-32). But the show does have Gamaliel standing up and giving his pointed speech (Acts 5:35-39). But as always, his excellent speech about freedom of religion is greatly truncated, but at least the most salient points are expressed. But I noticed that they worded the most powerful line as “opposing God” rather than “fighting against God” (Acts 5:39). The former is how the ESV and NRSV word it, while all other versions word it as the latter, including my ALT, hence why I noticed it.
In any case, Caiaphas is convinced not to execute the apostles, but he still has them flogged. That did happen. I remember that as I comment on it in my new book The LORD Has It Under Control. But Acts simply says, “having repeatedly beaten [them], they gave strict orders [to them] not to be speaking in the name of Jesus, and [then] they released them” (Acts 5:40; ALT3). But AD depicts their flogging in very graphic fashion for an extended period of time.
The apostles go back to the camp, where they are comforted by the women, who encourage them to stop what they are doing and go back to their former lives. But Luke knows nothing of this; he instead writes, “So they indeed departed from the face [fig., presence] of the High Council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41; ALT3).
The episode ends with a depiction of the speech and stoning of Stephen. But first, backing up a bit, earlier in the episode, Stephen complains to Peter about being put in charge of a “helps” ministry, saying he has the qualifications to do much more, knowing how to speak and write four languages. He then begins to teach Peter how to read Hebrew. But the Bible knows nothing of this. It simply mentions about Stephen being chosen as one of the first seven deacons of the church, who, yes, are put in charge of the distribution of food (Acts 6:1-6). But there is no indication that the seven complained about it or that Stephen was a scholar, while it is the apostles who say, “It is not desirable [for] us, having left the word of God, to be serving tables” (v.2).
Back to AD; Caiaphas and the rest of the High Council are apparently having some kind of meeting, which Stephen crashes and begins his famous speech. But in the Bible, it is first said, “Now Stephen, full of faith and of power, was performing wonders and great signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). But once again, AD just doesn’t have the time to depict what would be exciting miracles to watch. Instead, we are subjected to lots of fictional graphic violence. But it is these miracles, and Stephen’s powerful preaching, that are the cause of Stephen being dragged before the High Council, a much different scenario than the show depicts (Acts 6:8-15).
While before the High Council, Stephen begins his lengthy speech, well lengthy if you are reading the Book of Acts. It takes up most of Chapter 7, a full 53 verses. But out of this lengthy speech, the show only has him speaking about two verses. That is sad, as it is an excellent speech. In it, Stephen summarizes the early history of Israel.
I have long thought that this chapter would be good for someone who has never read the Old Testament to read to get a summary of what happened in those early critical years of the nation Israel. And it would have provided a nice way to get viewers who had not watched “The Bible” miniseries caught up on those events. But as always, AD simply cannot seem to spend too much time on what the Bible actually has the main characters doing and saying, as that would take away from time to depict graphic violence. But what it does do is have Stephen speak several lines that he did not say, like quoting Jesus as saying “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:18; ALT3).
After his speech, Acts says, “And having driven [him] outside of the city, they began stoning [him]” (7:58; ALT3). But this simple description is not enough for the sick writers. They have to have the stoning drawn out and depicted in a very graphic manner. And thus for the fifth time in a row, an episode of AD ends with me feeling distraught and “dirty’ from having watched graphic and gruesome portrayals of violence.
I have emphasized the graphic violence in this episode and this miniseries in general as it is the most such violence I have watched on TV in a quite a while. I especially do not subject myself to depictions of torture. I have never understood why people consider such to be entertainment. I remember way back, when an episode of Babylon 5 was wholly devoted to Commander Sinclair being tortured, being perplexed on this very point. How could anyone consider 45 minutes of watching someone being tortured to be entertainment? I remember fast forwarding through most of that episode. But in a Babylon 5 newsgroup I was participating in at that time, most seemed to have been “intrigued” by the episode.
The last violent TV series that I watched was Grimm, as I was intrigued by its depiction of the various wesen (half human/ half animal) creatures, and it was a fascinating alternative to traditional crime dramas. But it was rather graphic in its portrayal of the wesen violence. And then in one episode, Monroe, a good wesen, is kidnapped by a group of radical wesens and tortured in rather graphic fashion. That was it. I turned off that episode and stopped watching that series and any and all other violent TV series.
I realized that watching such violent TV shows was dragging me down emotionally and spiritually. And thus with much struggle, I stopped watching all such shows, and I have been doing much better emotionally and spiritually since doing so (see Steps to Being Emotionally and Spiritually Uplifted). But now once again, I am being subjected to such while watching a TV series that I thought would provide an emotional and spiritual boost. That is why I find this series and its graphic depictions of violence to be so objectionable and cannot fathom why so many Christians are finding this cesspool entertaining, to the point of applauding it.
AD: The Bible Continues - Review of Episode Five. Copyright © 2015 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).
AD: The Bible Continues - Review of Episode Six
Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament
The above article was posted on this website May 9, 2015.
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