Perhaps it is the Protestant that I am, but I wish they had spent more time on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus than the stations of the cross. But thankfully they left an hour to tell the story of Acts. At Niagara Presbyterian Church we begin reading the entire New Testament at 3 p.m. on Good Friday (the hour Jesus died) until finished on Saturday morning. This year I read aloud from the pulpit the entire book of Acts — all 28 chapters. The book of Acts is very large and they have condensed this material down to one hour, but I rather like the way that they tell the highlights of this story (except that the highlights to me in the book of Acts are the sermons). Perhaps they do Acts better because they only have one book to read when telling this part of the story of Jesus.
I think the only thing that would satisfy me regarding how the story of Jesus in the Gospels is told would be to have a separate movie for each of the Gospels. We have a rich treasure in the four different Gospels. The main problem with retelling the stories of the Gospels by blending details from each is that you end up teaching something different than any of the Gospels were doing. Each of the Gospels had a different purpose with the details that they included or did not include and the way that the story is told. When you retell the story in another medium the challenge is to capture the way the story was told and the reason the story was told. If one blends the Gospels together you will simply tell the same stories that are in those Gospels but for a different purpose.
I do not have much to say about the retelling of the crucifixion narrative in this miniseries that I have not already said in sermons that you can listen to on this site. The creators of the miniseries have majored on the Gospel of John and added details from the other Gospels to tell the story. They missed the verse that said that Caiaphas and the other religious leaders that went to Pilate refused to enter the governor’s headquarters lest they be made impure for the Passover (John 18:28). Instead they have Caiaphas entering into those headquarters more than once.
When they get to Acts, they call Saul by the name Paul too early, probably because we all know of him as Paul, but where they really get creative (add details that are not found in Scripture but rather in tradition) is how they recount the ends of the lives of each of the apostles. Yet this allows them a transition to telling the story of Revelation written down by the apostle John.
All in all the series was helpful to point people to Jesus in a culture that wants to ignore Jesus. It is a good thing that something like this would run in prime time. But the miniseries also highlights the problems that anyone would have in trying to render Scripture to the screen and I would argue that they magnified them because of major misteps made in trying to do so. They also made a number of minor errors, some of which I have noted, which were simply unnecessary to make. I will be interested to read what others have to say about this episode.