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AD: The Bible Continues
Review of Episode Ten

By Gary F. Zeolla
 

This review is continued from AD: The Bible Continues: Review of Episode Nine. What set this episode apart from previous ones is just the final few minutes of it actually came from the Book of Acts. All the rest was pure historical fiction, consisting of events that might have happened, although I seriously doubt it. But this episode does introduce or include characters that will be important in later episodes, or at least later in the Book of Acts, and it opens with a scene that harkens back to the Gospel of Luke. So I will do my best to summarize and evaluate the various plotlines.

 

James the Just

 

This episode opens with a man identified as “James the Just” in my Comcast on-screen guide. James is the oldest of the four brothers of Jesus (Matt 13:55). In the episode, James dreams about when he and Jesus were kids, and Jesus is lost in Jerusalem. James finds Jesus in the temple, and Jesus says to him, “Why [is it] that you* were seeking Me? Did you* not know that it is necessary [for] Me to be [occupied] in the [things] of My Father?” (Luke 2:49; ALT3). However, in Luke, it is Jesus’ parents who look for and find Him in the temple, and He says these words to them. But I guess A.D. had to change what really happened in order to introduce James.

James comes to meet with the apostles, and they obviously know who he is and ask what Jesus was like as a child. James says that even as a child, they could tell there was something special about Jesus. That is a nice sentiment, but in reality, James and the rest of Jesus’ brother did not believe He was special. As John writes, “His brothers were not believing in Him” (John 7:5).

But it is true that James later came to believe Jesus was the Christ and became one of the “pillars” of the early Church (Gal 2:9). This was because Jesus appeared to James personally after His resurrection (1Cor 15:7). Thus A.D. is correct in having James enter the picture. But he is not mentioned in Acts until 12:17, which is later than the time period covered in this episode. (Do not get confused by mention of a James earlier in Acts. That is James the brother of John, who is executed by Herod in 12:2.)

But what I found most interesting is A.D. never identifies James as the brother of Jesus. This was probably so as not to anger Catholics, who believe Mary was “ever virgin” and thus James and the other three named brothers of Jesus were actually Jesus’ cousins, despite the fact that the Greek word for “brother” is used of them, not the word for “cousin” (see Col 4:10).

 

The Ethiopian Eunuch

 

The Ethiopian Eunuch enters the picture in this episode. He has come to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; the most sacred of Jewish holidays. The Book of Acts does say he had been in Jerusalem “to prostrate himself in worship,” but there is no mention of this being for a Jewish holiday. But A.D. is correct in saying he was the treasurer of the queen of Ethiopia (Acts 8:27). 

This eunuch meets with Caiaphas and gives a gift to him. Caiaphas in turn gives a copy of the Scroll of Isaiah to the eunuch. The Ethiopian Eunuch will read this scroll in a very important scene, but I seriously doubt this is how he attained it (Acts 8:32f). And it should be noted these references are from Acts chapter 8, which is before Saul’s conversion; but here in A.D., that has already happened, so A.D. is messing up the timeline. 

In any case, Pilate is suspicious of this man, not understanding why an Ethiopian would be in Jerusalem. But his wife tells him that lots of people come to Jerusalem to worship, especially on Yom Kippur. But Pilate still insists on the eunuch having dinner with him, Caiaphas, Herod, and their wives. All of this might have happened, but I seriously doubt it. And I really doubt this eunuch gave a chest of silver coins to the zealots, as he is depicted later as doing. but I guess that was to show Pilate was correct in being suspicious of him.

 

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Tabitha, and Cornelius

 

Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene and Joanna are still serving in Pilate’s palace, along with Tabitha. I missed in my review of Episode Nine that the woman who was raped by Caligula was named Tabitha. I assume she will be the same Tabitha who is mentioned in Acts 9:36-43. But here, she professes her faith in Christ to Mary and Joanna, but Herod’s wife overhears and is outraged. Herod’s wife doesn’t do much about it, other than to tell them all to get out. But this interaction causes her to be late to the dinner with Pilate. Pilate has just told his guests that the “Nazarenes” have been dealt with, so when Herod’s wife arrives and mentions why she is late, Pilate, to save face, demands that the women be brought to him. 

He then orders for Tabitha to be flogged and for Joanna to be jailed. The soldier who flogs Tabitha is Cornelius. I have been remiss in not mentioning Cornelius before. He has actually appeared in just about every episode, starting with Episode One and him being one of the guards at the foot of Jesus’ cross who cast lots for His clothes (Matt 27:35). But in the Bible, he is not mentioned until Acts 10, when he is stationed in Caesarea. Thus there is little reason to suppose he was in Jerusalem before that, but I guess having him be in the miniseries throughout will make the depiction of Acts 10 that much more dramatic. 

Back to Tabitha. Fortunately, the flogging is not portrayed in too graphic of a manner, but her back is shown afterwards, and it is greatly wounded, and she understandable is in great pain. Caiaphas’s wife comes to Tabitha and Mary and surprisingly gives them ointment for the wounds and money to get out of town. I guess that is supposed to be how Tabitha ends up in Joppa (Acts 9:36). But Joanna is left in prison.


Saul and Simon the Zealot

 

Meanwhile, Saul is pulled out of prison and has an extended conversation with Caiaphas. Caiaphas had hoped to convince Saul of the wrongness of his profession of faith in Christ, but Saul refuses to recant his faith. Over his wife’s objections and very surprisingly, Caiaphas lets Saul go free, and he returns to the apostles. 

Simon then returns to the apostles from his meeting with the zealots. He is dismayed that Saul is there and believes that his release is a sign that his conversion was not genuine and that he is in cahoots with Caiaphas. But the other apostles dismiss his concerns. Simon thus returns to the zealots and tells them what has happened. The zealots believe it is best if Saul is assassinated. Simon is hesitant about that action, but he appears powerless to stop it. The whole scenario reminded me of TV scenes of people who get involved with the mob or a gang, but then things go farther than they were prepared to go. Simon thus regrets his going to the zealots and tells Peter about what he has done. 

Meanwhile, Saul has been causing some contention with the apostles by his preaching in the streets to the Jews that the temple is no longer important. The apostles believe that not only will this bring the wrath of Caiaphas upon them but that it is wrong theology. But rather than working out this theological difference, they think it best if Saul leaves Jerusalem. The episode thus ends with Saul on his way to his hometown of Tarsus. 

This scene is troubling as it makes it appear like there were theological differences between Saul and the apostles. This idea is often claimed, especially that Saul/ Paul and Peter conflict. But I have a section on “Parallels Between Peter and Paul’s Teachings” in “Scripture Study #3” in my Scripture Workbook showing they are in substantial agreement. But at least the final few minutes of this episode did finally and correctly portray the passage from the Book of Acts that I quoted at the end of my review of the previous episode.

28And he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and speaking boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, 29and he was speaking and disputing with the Hellenists [fig., Greek-speaking Jews]. But they were attempting to execute him, 30but the brothers [and sisters] having found out, brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus (Acts 9:28-30; ALT3).

 

Conclusion

 

I guess the purpose of this episode was to set up later episodes as it surely was not to portray events from the Books of Acts, given just the final few minutes of this episode actually came from Acts. What it mostly did was to take names from Acts and make up backstories for these characters that might have happened, but I seriously doubt it.

AD: The Bible Continues - Review of Episode Eleven

AD: The Bible Continues - Review of Episode Ten. Copyright 2015 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).


Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament



The above article was posted on this website June 13, 2015.

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