Last year, producer Mark Burnett gave every indication that A.D.: The Bible Continues would cover the entire book of Acts and then some. He told one interviewer that the series would tell “the story of the first 40 years after the crucifixion.” (Acts itself covers only the first 30 years or so.) He told another that he and his team “planned to get to [the year] 70 as the temple falls”. (Acts itself comes to an end circa AD 62.)
And then, he said, he hoped the series would be renewed for several more years, until it reached the death of the emperor Constantine in AD 337. But lately there have been signs that the series will be much more limited in scope — at least for now.
Exhibit A: PE News, the official news source for the Assemblies of God, says ministers from that denomination have prepared an “Official A.D. Church Kit” that includes 12 weeks’ worth of sermons — presumably one for each episode of the 12-part series — that are “designed to take viewers deeper into the first 10 chapters of Acts.”
Exhibit B: while promoting the series a few weeks ago, the actors who play Peter, Paul and John discussed the fact that they had already shot eight episodes — and that they were only just getting to the conversion of Paul, which happens in Acts 9:
Exhibit C, and this is the clincher: Roma Downey posted a video on one of the show’s official websites — which I hadn’t seen until I had almost finished writing this post — in which she states that the series will cover just the first 10 chapters of Acts.
That would take the series to the conversion of Cornelius, which happened in the late 30s or early 40s AD — long, long before the destruction of the temple in AD 70.
A few random comments and speculations:
First, it’s interesting that the series will apparently include the conversion of Paul and the conversion of the first Gentile, i.e. Cornelius — but it will not get as far as Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles, which was very controversial within the early church.
Second, it occurs to me that Caiaphas, Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate — the chief Jewish and Roman leaders at the time of Jesus’ execution — were all deposed between AD 36 and 39. Given that the series begins with the crucifixion of Jesus, and given that the first season seems to be coming to an end not long after these people all lost their jobs, perhaps their downfalls will be one of the show’s major arcs?
Third, Paul writes in Galatians 1 that he spent three years in Damascus and Arabia after converting to Christianity, before returning to Jerusalem and meeting with Peter and at least one of the other apostles. Will A.D. incorporate this detail?
Finally, this is one more way in which the new series will be very different from A.D.: Anno Domini, the 1985 miniseries that also consisted of 12 hours aired on NBC. That series covered the entire book of Acts and ended not long after the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul, which happened after the events of Acts — but it looks like this new series will need to be renewed for another season or two before it gets that far.