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AD: The Bible Continues
Review of Episode Nine

By Gary F. Zeolla

This review is continued from AD: The Bible Continues: Review of Episode Eight. This episode had two main storylines. The first was a dastardly plan by Caligula and how this affected Judaism and the early Church. The second was the continuing aftermath of Saul’s conversion.


Caligula and the Temple


The episode begins the Caligula storyline by showing the new Emperor Caligula forcing the right-hand man of his predecessor to commit suicide, and then Caligula raping a Jewish woman. Needless to say, I could have done without seeing both scenes. 

But then more dramatically, in an effort to appease Caligula over what he attempted to do to him in the previous episode, Pilate suggests to Caligula to put up a statue of himself in the throne room they were then in. This then expands to putting up statues of Caligula all over the empire. That really feeds into Caligula’s arrogance. But then he comes up with the dastardly plan that one of these statues should be set up in the Jewish temple. 

The rest of the episode is then centered on this potentiality. Pilates knows it will cause a Jewish revolt, leading to the deaths of thousands of Jews and even of many Roman soldiers. When Caiaphas hears of the plan, he connects it to the Book of Daniel’s prediction of “an abomination of the desolation” (Daniel 9:27 (LXX), 11:31; 12:11). Mary Magdalene, still working in the palace, overhears about the plan and tells the apostles. They immediately connect it with Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, when He repeats Daniel’s prediction (Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14). But some of them actually welcome it, as they think it will be the prelude to the Second Coming.

I had to do a little research and was surprised to find out that it is true Caligula had proposed to do this. But it was not until 40 AD (Statue of Caligula in Jerusalem Temple). However, as stated in the previous review, Saul’s conversion happened at the latest in 35 AD. Thus once again, AD is truncating historical events for dramatic effect. And it will be interesting to see how accurately AD portrays what happens with this plan. But what I am sure of is the New Testament never mentions this event, and there is no indication it had any effect on the growth of the early Church or that Christians at the time were expecting a fulfillment of Jesus’ words by it.


The Aftermath of Saul's Conversion


Meanwhile, Saul has already started preaching about Jesus in Damascus, and this has stirred up the Jews there. We then see a decent depiction of the following event from Acts:

        23Now when many days were fulfilled [fig., after many days], the Jews plotted among themselves to execute him. 24But their plot became known to Saul. And they were watching the gates closely both day and night, in order that they should execute him. 25But the disciples having taken him by night, they let [him] down through [an opening in] the [city] wall, lowering [him] in a large basket. [cp. 2Cor 11:32,33] (Acts 9:23-35).

Next is a depiction of the following scene from Acts:

        26Then Saul, having arrived in Jerusalem, was attempting to be joined to the disciples, and they all were fearing him, not believing that he is a disciple. 27But Barnabas having taken him, brought [him] to the apostles and described to them how on the road he saw the Lord and that He spoke to him, and how in Damascus he was speaking boldly in the name of Jesus. 28And he was with them at Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-28a).

As I have always read this passage, it sounds like the apostles believed Barnabas that Saul’s conversion was genuine and very quickly accepted Saul as a brother in Christ. But I guess that would not have made for a very dramatic storyline, so in AD this acceptance is depicted as not being so easy in coming. Peter argues with Saul for quite some time, recounting all of the horrors he had done against the Church. But after much ado, Peter finally accepts him, but the other apostles do not.

Simon most especially refuses to do so. He is described in Luke 6:15 as being a Zealot. Such was the name given to those who were looking to violently overthrow the Roman occupation of Judea. But I have always read that as being his former life, before he met Jesus. But in AD, after running off from Saul, Simon seeks out and finds other Zealots. Saul rushes after him, but is caught by temple guards and is thrown into prison. And thus ends the episode.

Saul does get imprisoned on more than one occasion, but not now. The Book of Acts actually continues the preceding quoted paragraph with the following:

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 9:26b-30).

This is far from what AD depicts, as has been the case more often than not. Sometimes AD gets it right, like with the basket scene, but more often than not, it does not. And that is very sad.

AD: The Bible Continues - Review of Episode Ten

AD: The Bible Continues - Review of Episode Nine. 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 6, 2015.

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