Saul’s road-to-Damascus experience: twelve films

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The first written reference to the resurrection appearances of Jesus appears not in the gospels but in the epistles of Paul. Specifically, it appears in I Corinthians 15, where Paul passes on a list of the people who witnessed the risen Jesus, and then, at the end, Paul writes that Jesus appeared to him, too, “as to one abnormally born.”

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Watch: Simon the magician meets Philip the miracle-worker in a clip from the next episode of A.D. The Bible Continues

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The marketing around A.D. The Bible Continues has taken an interesting turn over the last few weeks. The series itself is a hybrid of sorts, part Bible adaptation and part political thriller, and lately the people behind the series have been releasing clips from upcoming episodes in a way that reflects the show’s dual nature.

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Watch: An angel breaks the apostles out of prison in a new clip from next week’s episode of A.D. The Bible Continues

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One of several things that sets A.D. The Bible Continues apart from previous adaptations of the book of Acts is its depiction of the angels. While some films and TV shows have shied away from any sort of straightforward portrayal of the angels, A.D. puts them front and centre — and next week’s episode will be no different.

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The Ascension of Christ in film: literalism, symbolism, etc.

Today is the Feast of the Ascension, when Christians remember how Jesus was taken up into heaven 40 days after his Resurrection. It’s one of the stranger bits in the Gospels — both difficult to understand, given our modern cosmology, and difficult to pull off visually — and most of what we know about it actually comes from the Book of Acts. So it’s not too surprising that most films about Jesus have tended to skip this episode.

Nevertheless, a few films have depicted the Ascension, often by mixing it with elements from other stories in the gospels; and even those that don’t depict it have often made a point of ending on a note that suggests Jesus has transcended this life in some way that parallels the Ascension. Here are a few examples.

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The latest attempt to film all four gospels word-for-word

Every now and then, someone embarks on a quixotic quest to film the entire Bible, word for word. In the 1970s, the Genesis Project got as far as filming the books of Genesis and Luke, the latter of which was condensed into the Jesus film that is now distributed by Campus Crusade. More recently, there was the Visual Bible, which produced adaptations of Matthew and Acts in the 1990s and then, after a change of ownership, an adaptation of The Gospel of John in 2003.

Yesterday I came across what seems like a more modest project: an attempt to film all four gospels under the collective title the Lumo Project.

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The Bible / What works and what doesn’t in the ambitious mini-series

It’s common these days for each new episode of a TV series to begin with a montage that sums up all the relevant plot points from previous episodes. So it was only natural that, when the History Channel aired its five-part mini-series The Bible over the month of March, all but one of the episodes began with narrator Keith David intoning, in his deep baritone voice, “Previously, on The Bible…”

All of the show’s strengths and weaknesses are captured in that one phrase. Produced by Mark Burnett (a TV mogul best known for unscripted “reality” shows like Survivor and The Apprentice) and his wife Roma Downey (who once starred in Touched by an Angel), the mini-series rushes through the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, in ten hours — though it’s more like seven, once you bracket off the commercial breaks — and it zips through the stories so quickly that you barely notice when they are compressed even further in those opening sequences. But the mini-series also makes a point of emphasizing the continuity between Bible stories in a way that is quite rare among Bible films, and in a way that sometimes allows individual stories to shed light profitably on others.

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