School of Divinity dean serves as consultant for NBC's 'A.D.'
|Mark Burnett (left), producer of NBC's upcoming drama "A.D. The Bible Continues," with Dr. Ed Hindson, dean of Liberty University's School of Divinity, at the Vines Center in February. Hindson was a biblical consultant for the series.|
The story of Acts will come to life in prime time as NBC debuts “A.D. The Bible Continues” at 9 p.m. (EST) on April 5, Easter Sunday. Produced by acclaimed television innovator Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey (creators of “The Bible” miniseries) the new 12-episode drama will run through June 21.
Not only is the couple, who has built a relationship with Liberty and claim to be “the noisiest Christians in Hollywood,” committed to bringing biblical stories to a worldwide audience, they have also made extra efforts to make sure they are told right. One of the ways they did this was to seek the expertise of Dr. Ed Hindson, distinguished professor and dean of Liberty University’s School of Divinity. Hindson has spoken at churches all over the country and has lectured at a number of prestigious universities, including Westminster Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, and Oxford University’s constituent Balliol College. He has authored 40 books, edited five study Bibles, and is a winner of the Gold Medallion for excellence in Christian authorship.
Hindson agreed to serve as a biblical consultant for the project. In that role he read the scripts to ensure that the story stayed true to the Bible. While he said that he understood that artistic license had to be taken to present the stories on television, he was amazed at how the creators strived to make it as accurate as possible.
“What I found was, whenever they got a little too creative with the story and I had to bring them back to ‘this is what the Bible text says,’ they were willing to make those adjustments,” Hindson explained. “That gave me great encouragement; they want to tell the biblical story accurately but they also want to tell the story in an exciting, engaging way.”
While biblical facts are clear in the text, Hindson explained that a lot of the back story, as well as the thought processes and emotions of characters, are open for interpretation. He said that all of the conversion stories from the book of Acts are clearly, and powerfully, depicted.
Hindson said the show is designed for a diverse range of viewers and described it as a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat drama created for a 21st century, post-modern audience.
He consulted remotely and free of charge, and said it was an honor to have been called on to contribute to the project. He said the fact that Hollywood producers would consider him for this project speaks to both Liberty’s influence as the world’s largest Christian university and to Burnett and Downey’s relationship with Liberty.
The couple spoke at Liberty Convocation last year when they shared footage from their film “Son of God” and invited students to participate in promoting it by creating trailers for the film. The winners were flown to Hollywood to join them for a VIP experience. Burnett returned to Liberty in February, where he shared advance footage from “A.D.” with students during Convocation. He then held a screening of the first two episodes at Liberty’s Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center — what Burnett calls one of the top film schools in the country with talent and equipment rivaling that of professional film sets.
Hindson attended the screening and said the production value is top-notch, the set and cinematography is beautiful, and the story is compelling.
“I thought it was better than I even imagined it would be,” he said. “It is action-packed. It is the best thing ever done in the way of a biblical drama, in my opinion. … I think when people look back over time, they’re going to see this as a groundbreaking series that has made a tremendous difference in people’s understanding of the first-century biblical world.”
Hindson is no stranger to television — he hosts a weekly program, “The King is Coming,” which airs internationally — though this was the first time he has worked on a serial drama.
He said he accepted the challenge because he knew “A.D.” could be a powerful tool to point people to the Bible. The show’s creators are already considering subsequent seasons.
- Hindson was recently featured by WSLS, the local NBC affiliate, for his role in the series.