The History Channel’s 2013 series “The Bible” was a surprising, massive hit, drawing 13 million viewers and eventually producing a movie adaptation, Son of God, that grossed nearly $60 million. This Easter Sunday NBC will be airing the first of 12 episodes of the follow-up series “A.D.: The Bible Continues,” which focuses on the events recorded in Acts 1-10.
The producers, Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, told Christianity Today that the new series takes “a deeper dive into the book of Acts so we can really explore the stories and really dig deeper into the characters. You’ve got to remember they didn’t know they were characters in the Bible, but rather were people like you and me struggling with the things that we struggle with.”
They also point to parallels between the early Church and the Church today:
Acts, in many ways, is the story of a persecuted church. Where did you see parallels between persecution today and that of the first century?
Downey: I think the parallels are obvious, and it’s with heartbreak that we watch the news coming out overseas . We are surprised at how little news there is really in this country about what is happening over there. You can see that 2,000 years have passed and many things have changed but tragically some things have not changed. I think it’s up to us, the American Christians, to speak up and speak out and speak loudly, that this cannot happen.
Our story takes us on the journey of those dark days after the death of Jesus, when fear and confusion reigned for the disciples and danger lurked down every alleyway. We know the Roman occupation was cruel and severe, led by Pontius Pilate. We see the also the political maneuvering of the temple authorities and that struggle for power led by Caiaphas. We show you the struggle for freedom by taking up arms as expressed by the zealots and then, of course, at the center of it at all, we have the disciples and the early believers navigating through the dangerous days and waiting for the Holy Spirit to come.
The series’ ecumenical nature is evident in the support shown by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, both of whom have endorsed the series and the related study materials produced by Sophia Institute Press. Those materials include a Catholics Viewer’s Guide written by Veronica Burchard and A.D. Ministers and Martyrs: The Ultimate Catholic Guide to the Apostolic Age by Mike Aquilina. The viewer’s guide features information about each of the 12 episodes, including maps, timelines, information about key persons, important terms, connections to Scripture and writings of saints, discussion questions, and prayers. Aquilina’s book is a popular guide to the Acts of the Apostles, focusing on key events, Peter and Paul, the Catholic nature of the early Church, and the primacy of Rome.
Here is an extended trailer for “A.D.: The Bible Continues”, which airs on NBC on Sunday, April 5th, at 9/8c:
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