Episode 9: “Saul's Return”

Peter and Paul loom so large in the history of the Church, and are so frequently linked in the traditions of the Church—from icons and special feast days to the tradition that they were both executed by the emperor Nero—that it comes as a bit of a surprise to realize that, if all you had to go by was the book of Acts, it wouldn't be clear whether Peter and Paul had ever met, much less spoken to each other.

It's certainly implied that they meet when Barnabas introduces Saul to "the apostles" in Acts 9, and Peter and Paul both make presentations to the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15—but if they ever spoke to each other specifically, the book of Acts never says so.

Filmmakers, of course, can't leave it at that. If you're going to make a movie about the book of Acts, you have to show its two most important characters meeting at some point, and that means writing dialogue for them and so on.

Thankfully, Paul himself tells us about some of his meetings with Peter in the early chapters of Galatians—and not all of those meetings went well. But many filmmakers tend to ignore Paul's letters when they dramatize the rise of the early Church—they tend to rely on Acts exclusively for their dramatic framework—so when they do show Peter and Paul meeting each other, they have to make something up.

A.D. The Bible Continues, it seems, is one of these Acts-only adaptations.

The episode begins with Saul—as Paul is still called—fleeing the city of Damascus because some of his fellow Jews are out to get him, as per Acts 9:23–25; there is no mention of the Arabian governor who was also out to get him, as per 2 ...

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Watch This Way
How we watch matters at least as much as what we watch. TV and movies are more than entertainment: they teach us how to live and how to love one another, for better or worse. And they both mirror and shape our culture.
Alissa Wilkinson
Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.
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