Monday, June 08, 2015

A.D. The Bible Continues (TV / NBC) – “Brothers in Arms” (10/12)


The women were once again portrayed as self-determining, strong-willed individuals in this episode.

Caiaphas is continuing to develop his strength and will. He will no longer kow-tow to Leah’s demands.

Saul felt a little more likable and he didn’t appear quite so “drugged” this time. The producers have placed into Saul’s mouth a selection of texts found in the Epistles.

It’s about the brotherhood of believers and followers of Jesus, even if they don’t quite agree on everything or even necessarily like each other. Others may demand that they come first in loyalty – Zealots and the Temple to name the two most prominent ones cited in this episode – but when it comes down to it, loyalty to Jesus trumps all others.

It’s also about the sisterhood. I thought the male and female sides of following Jesus were both given sufficient development in this episode. It was the women who suffered the most hardships for their faith in this episode.

In this series, Saul is portrayed as against Judaism and all its traditions and rituals, but that is not necessarily supported by critical scholarship. What actual scholarship shows is that Saul/Paul was against Jews requiring Gentiles to become Jews before being accepted into Christian fellowship. Saul/Paul was not against Jews practicing Judaism.

The Ethiopian eunuch, the treasurer of the Queen of Ethiopia, makes his appearance. The entire narrative and plot around his character is imagined, a prelude that leads into Acts 8:26-30.

The narrative around the apostles is found in Acts 9:29-30.

James, the brother of Jesus, makes his first appearance in the series. In Acts he isn’t mentioned until chapter 12. In the series he is a Rabbi and one who is able to make a case for the acceptance of Christians by the leaders of Judaism. This is probably based on the stories that surround James the Just and his traditional faithfulness to Judaism.

The religio-political strife continues to be the primary driver of the plot. The threatened arrival of the image of Caligula which he demanded be placed in the Temple is the key element around which the entire episode revolves. Everyone is afraid of it and the effects it will have in Jerusalem.

This was a decent episode, to which I give a rating of 7 out of 10.


Starts in Galilee. A dream sequence of memories from the past. James, brother of Jesus is having them. It is of Jesus at the Temple when he was twelve, when he was separated from his family. James walking away from Galilee.

Apostles wondering what has happened to Saul and Simon. They believe Caiaphas has both of them. Peter declares he will go and beg for their release. Caiaphas has Saul brought to him. He wonders what has happened to Saul. Saul explains he has found the truth. Caiaphas wants Saul back; back to the Temple; back to the faith. Saul does not renounce his faith in Jesus.

Tabitha, Joanna, and Mary discuss Jesus’ teachings among themselves.

Saul claims he has found Jesus, has found the Messiah, has repented and found forgiveness. There is no more need to pursue ritual purity. There is no need for the Temple or the priests. Caiaphas is not pleased with this turn of events. He slaps Saul across his face. He threatens Saul with physical punishment and imprisonment.

Peter comes out of the house to go to the Temple. Barnabas isn’t sure. Who will lead the fledgling movement if Peter is also killed? Then James, Jesus’ brother, appears.

End of segment one.

The apostles gather, James retells his dream and took that as a sign to go be with the other apostles. He tells them about Jesus’ years of childhood and youth. They tell James of Saul and Simon. James is a Rabbi and thinks that may have some influence in dealing with Caiaphas.

An Ethiopian royal convoy enters Jerusalem. Cornelius goes out with a detachment of soldiers to meet them and inquire as to their business.

Leah is out in the temple courtyard praying when she notices Saul walking past. Caiaphas has let him go. Caiaphas thinks Saul is mad and that his words will eventually doom him. Leah accuses him of weakness. Caiaphas doesn’t want to alienate any Jew, whatever cult or sect they might belong to. He believes all Jews must be united to resist the monstrosity of Caligula’s image that is soon to arrive. Leah doesn’t approve. Caiaphas stands firm.

Cornelius reports to Pilate that no weapons or contraband were found in the Ethiopian convoy. He reports that they have simply come to sacrifice at the Temple. Pilate is still suspicious. Claudia notes that it is one of the Jewish holy days and that people from all over the world come to the Temple. But Pilate wonders why an Ethiopian would do so. Pilate demands to see the Ethiopian – at dinner – with Herod and Herodias.

Leah goes and meets with Eva. She wants to get in contact with the Zealots. Eva refuses until Leah tells her what it is that she wants. Leah wants a man killed.

End of segment two.

Saul appears at the house of the apostles, a free man. Simon is suspicious. He wonders what Saul is up to.

James comes to the Temple. He speaks with Caiaphas. He demands the release of Saul and Simon. Caiaphas says he can’t help. Caiaphas offers a proposal: he will offer them sanctuary and an end to persecution if they respect the Temple. They can come and pray at the Temple. But not Saul. He is not welcome at the Temple.

Caiaphas and the Ethiopian eunuch meet. The Ethiopian offers gifts to Caiaphas and the Temple. Caiaphas offers him a scroll of Isaiah. Cornelius arrives and rudely interrupts and commands a dinner invitation.

Leah is brought to a meeting with Levi. She wants Saul killed. The Zealots have no quarrel with the Nazarenes. Leah accuses Levi of becoming lax in his faith. Levi warns her to be careful with her words, especially in consideration of her accommodations toward Rome. In return for his services, Levi wants Leah to influence Caiaphas to cause a mass killing of Romans when the statue of Caligula arrives.

Herodias is looking for hew new gown to wear to dinner. She goes to look for Tabitha. Claudia bumps into Herodias. Claudia takes Herodias to one of her seamstresses. Tabitha, Joanna, and Mary are talking about baptism and Jesus when Herodias and Claudia walk in on them.

End of segment three.

Claudia will deal with Mary. Herodias banishes Joanna and Tabitha from her household.

James returns to the apostles to present Caiaphas’ offer. They are surprised that the only request is for them to respect the Temple. They can go out, no longer in fear. Saul asks why they need the Temple. Saul explains that with Jesus, the need for the Temple is gone, so why continue to support it? Simon disagrees and leaves.

At dinner with Pilate. Pilate, the eunuch, and Herod debate the nature of Roman peace and governance. Pilate believes there is peace, that the Zealots and the Nazarenes had been quashed. Herod says that there is civility among them. The eunuch questions whether there really is peace or not. Herodias arrives. She states that she had to dismiss one of her seamstresses. The eunuch questions why there wasn’t any forgiveness granted on Yom Kippur. She states that dismissal was an act of forgiveness. Pilate asks what crime was committed. Claudia tries to run interference, but Pilate insists. Herodias states that Tabitha was trying to join the Nazarenes. The eunuch questions Pilate’s earlier claim that the Nazarenes were gone.

Simon sits near the Temple and waits until Levi arrives. Levi asks about Saul. Levi asks Simon to bring Saul to him. What happens to Saul is not Simon’s concern. Simon is concerned, however, because Saul is a brother in Christ. Levi reminds Simon that the promises and loyalties to him take precedence. Levi reminds him of his loyalty to the Temple.

Pilate orders that Joanna and Tabitha be flogged for their “treason”. Claudia tries to talk him out of it, but he remains unmoved. Cornelius asks which one should be flogged first. Tabitha beings to cry. Joanna encourages her to remain strong. Only Tabitha will be flogged.

End of segment four.

Eva and Levi discuss Saul, the Romans, and whether or not Leah can be trusted. Eva isn’t so sure about any of this, including killing Saul who is not a Roman and to her knowledge has not done anything deserving of death.

Levi enters the room of the eunuch, who presents Levi with a chest full of coins.

Pilate and Claudia argue about the treatment of the servants. Pilate is unhappy about Claudia’s public withholding of approval of his actions. He intends to put Joanna to death, but hasn’t figured out how to make it count. Chuza comes to the cell where Joanna is being held.

Saul preaches to the public in Jerusalem. He preaches against the Temple. He preaches that all can be freed from its tyranny. Eva and Simon listen. Simon says they believe some of what Saul preaches. Eva warns that the Nazarenes will be destroyed if Saul continues to preach like that. She wants Simon to deliver Saul to them so they can take care of him after Yom Kippur.

Mary treats Tabitha’s wounds. Claudia comes in and drops off money, medicine and herbs. Pilate is busy and he will not notice if they leave now. She remains silent when asked about the fate of Joanna.

End of segment five.

Temple. Yom Kippur. Two goats being brought in.

Tabitha is with the apostles. Saul speaks to her, encourages her. Simon comes in. Peter tells him that she was beaten, on Pilate’s orders. Simon says he has something to tell Peter. [Cuts away]

Back to the temple. One of the goats is held while Caiaphas lays the sins of the nation upon it, to be led away into the wilderness, to take away their sins. The crowd cheers.

Simon tells Peter and James about the Zealots’ request of him, and of their plans for Saul. James is pretty certain that Saul is a problem for them. His views are too radical. Peter disagrees. Saul walks in and knows they are talking about him.

The scapegoat is led out into the wilderness.

Saul leaves Jerusalem. The apostles wish him well. Saul thinks he ought to stay in Jerusalem where he can do the most good. Peter thinks God has bigger plans for him. Saul tells them that he is trying to drag all of them forward, but no one will listen. Peter assures Saul that this is not excommunication – they will remain brothers and will meet again. Saul goes away by himself.

End of episode ten.