A number of our members have been watching "A.D.-The Bible" and have been asking for an opinion. I haven't been able to weigh in because weekends have been so busy I haven't been able to watch.
So I tried to catch up by watching a couple of episodes last night and came away with a couple of thoughts (do with them as you will - your mileage may vary).
The episodes I've watched have been more faithful to the text that I thought they would be. I stopped watching "The Bible" mini-series because the producers and writers seemed to feel that they needed to "rewrite" so many stories.
I remember how they presented the Lazarus resurrection story - it was unrecognizable from what John reported in his Gospel. And, frankly, how can you top John's narrative? Jesus commands, "Lazarus, come out!" Christ and the crowd stand at the entrance of the tomb. How long they wait we don't know. But when Lazarus finally walks out - can you believe it? He's alive! Oh, to have been there that day.
In "The Bible," Jesus doesn't stand in front of the tomb. He enters it. Rather than issuing a simple but powerful command, Jesus breaths on Lazarus. Then, the brother of Mary and Martha finally rises. I guess the scene was designed to show a more gentle and heartwarming Jesus. But really, to rewrite the Gospels? That's dangerous and finally I just couldn't watch anymore.
Aside from the running narrative between Pilate and Caiaphas (which we have no idea how the two dealt with each other, post-resurrection) I've found many of the scenes in "A.D.-The Bible"quite powerful. Watching Peter confront Ananias and Sapphira over their deceit was exciting. Even more so was Peter's testimony to them that the Holy Spirit is God.
On the other hand, I was quite confused when my oldest daughter called to ask me about Peter's daughter. We know Peter was married (Jesus healed his mother-in-law) so I suppose that he probably had a family. But there is no mention in the Gospels or Acts of Peter's children. So the whole scene where Peter's daughter is near death and the disciple pleads with God to heal her is a needless contrivance. I say, "Stick to the story!" It's more than exciting.
On Sunday mornings during our Bible class we've been watching scenes from the film, "The Gospel of John." This is, in my humble opinion, the best film on Jesus that I've ever seen. The acting is superb - the actors deliver their lines without sounding too stilted or dramatic. And the film sticks to the script. Every word spoken comes from John, using the Good News translation of the Bible. The film is three hours long so you might want to break it up into several segments. But the movie is really good. It's the Bible!