Looking forward to the release of their epic new books, we interviewed authors Mike Aquilina and Veronica Burchard.
A.D. The Catholic Viewer’s Guide
EpicPew: The new “A.D.” series picks up after “The Bible” ends, which covered New Testament narratives such as Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and some of the accounts in Acts. The title is “The Bible Continues”, so should viewers expect the series to stay within the framework of the rest of the New Testament?
Veronica: That’s right. The A.D. the Bible Continues is based on the Acts of the Apostles.
EpicPew: The previous series, “The Bible”, played through Lent in 2011. The “A.D.” series premier is on Easter Sunday. Does this have any significance?
Veronica: Yes, the first episode begins on Good Friday and takes us through Christ’s Resurrection.
EpicPew: How might a viewer use your new book while watching the series?
Veronica: The guide is meant to help Catholics get more out of watching the series and learn more about our Faith in the process. You can read the whole thing ahead of time, or read it one chapter as a time as the episodes air. Each one contains a short essay with historical and theological background, a map so you can see where the Apostles journeyed or where important activities happened during the episode, profiles so you know the role of each Biblical character, key terms, and connections to Scripture, the Catechism, and to the lives and writings of the Saints. You can use the guide on your own or with others because it has ideas for discussions and activities with family and friends. Each chapter also contains suggestions to share what you learned with others, prayers to say, and other ways to bring what you’ve learned to life. The first disciples had a great mission, and here we are 2000 years later with the same responsibilities as they had, even though our time looks different and we have different challenges.
EpicPew: What should Catholic viewers expect from the series?
Veronica: I think this series will give us a great starting place to grow in our love for the Lord, learn more about the Church He founded, and connect with the saints. It’s a chance to gather with friends and family and see on our T.V screens depictions of these amazing stories that don’t get told very often: the Ascension, Pentecost, miraculous healings, the Apostles going to prison and being martyred, we see Paul go from being the Church’s fiercest enemy to its greatest preacher. We see how St. Peter and the disciples struggled to meet the materials and spiritual needs of the growing Christian community. These people who knew Jesus had such an important mission. We are also called to help God in his plan to save the world.
EpicPew: You’ve become increasingly known as the expert on the early Church Fathers, so what can readers look forward to in your new book?
Mike Aquilina: I always try to give readers a window on an unfamiliar world. In most of my books, that world has been the Greco-Roman world of late antiquity. I know that readers like stories, and so I looked for the stories that make the first century come vividly to life. I wanted to write a book that’s rich in historical facts, but never bogs down. I hope this will be, for many readers, their imaginative entry into the apostolic age.
EpicPew: What sort of research was required to fill the pages?
Mike Aquilina: The research, really, has been my life up to this point — the books I’ve been devouring for the last thirty years or so. This era has been my passion throughout my adult life. My home is a research library that was built for this book.
EpicPew: Was there anything that surprised you about life in the early Church that came from your research?
Mike Aquilina: I’m always being surprised, because the people we read about in history are real people. They differ from one another. They do unexpected things. They’re complicated. If you examine all the historical sources on Pontius Pilate, and Caiaphas, and Peter and Paul, you encounter surprising men, impressive in so many ways, disappointing in other ways.
EpicPew: Pretend I’m not a Catholic. I’m a seeker of truth, but I don’t think the Catholic Church of today is what one might find in the early Church. What should encourage me to pick up your book?
Mike Aquilina: Because, whether or not you believe what the Church teaches about Jesus, he was a real historical figure — and his teachings have profoundly shaped your life. It was his religion that let loose ideas like human dignity, human equality, human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, and morality in warfare. It was his religion that invented institutions like the hospital, the university, the hospice, the hostel, and the systematic application of scientific method. His life inspired Leonardo’s “Last Supper,” Michelangelo’s “Pieta,” Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” and Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” His followers changed the world for the better, so that you might enjoy it more. Any guy who could inspire that kind of culture is worth getting to know — is worth your time. In my book you’ll catch his wave as it’s just beginning.