Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s television series A.D. continued this week with the season finale, episode 12, called “The Abomination.” We asked for your questions. The following are brief responses to top questions.
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Was there a statue of Caligula that reached Jerusalem?
This season reveals an enormous statue of Emperor Caligula that Pilate commands will be displayed in the Jewish temple. The high priest fears a revolution, knowing the Jewish people will not stand a “graven image” in their place of worship.
Caligula did command a statue of his likeness to be placed in the temple. However, his command never became reality. His statue made it only as far as Syria in about 40 A.D., where it stayed without reaching Jerusalem. While this graven image would certainly spark conflict in Jerusalem, both the chronology and the facts are a bit off in this aspect of the episode.
How did the Bible describe the vision of Cornelius?
Early in episode 12 Cornelius sees a vision of an angel who commands him to call Peter for a visit. This is a visual portrayal of Acts 10:3-6 that shares:
One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
In this case, A.D. offers a positive picture of how this scene may have taken place.
Did Cornelius really become a Christian?
When Peter came to the home of Cornelius, he believes in Jesus (though it was not clearly expressed in words). Acts 10:44-48 describes the scene in this way:
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
A couple of differences are noted. Mary Magdalene was not mentioned in the account of Cornelius. Peter shares a sermon rather than a conversation with a few people. In addition, the text notes many people were baptized, not just Cornelius.
Did Caiaphas attempt an alliance with James to save the temple from Caligula’s statue?
In this episode, high priest Caiaphas calls in James the brother of Jesus for a meeting. In it, he wants the Christians to unite with him against the Romans and Caligula’s statue. James says he cannot help him, answering, “But I worship Jesus now.”
While James appears to have been held in high esteem among the Jewish religious leaders (according to Jewish historian Josephus), there is no record of James being consulted by the high priest to unite early Jewish Christians against the Romans.
Did Cornelius and his family speak in other languages?
Similar to the Day of Pentecost, Cornelius and those in his household began to speak in other languages as they believed the message of Jesus. This reflects Acts 10:45-46 that states, “The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”
This event marked a transition of Christianity as primarily Jewish to the inclusion of Gentiles (non-Jewish people). The book of Acts then transitions to a focus on sharing Jesus with all people, including those outside of Judaism, reaching the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20).
Will A.D. continue for another season?
Though it has yet to be officially announced, it looks like a Season 2 could be released on Easter 2016. Check out the interview here: http://deadline.com/2015/04/ad-the-bible-continues-producers-season-2-mark-burnett-roma-downey-1201403685/.
For articles on the other episodes in this series, helpful videos, and other resources, visit jashow.org/ad-series.