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'A.D.The Bible' Series Continues New Testament Story after Jesus' Crucifixion to Book of Acts, Premieres Easter Sunday on NBC

( [email protected] ) Mar 30, 2015 08:08 PM EDT

A.D. The Bible Series Continuation
A.D. The Bible will premiere on April 5 to tell the Book of Acts. Photo: Facebook/A.D. The Bible Continues

The follow-up to 2013's The Bible series will debut on Easter Sunday to bring the Book of Acts to your living room in 12 brand new episodes.

A.D. The Bible, from executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, will return on April 5 at 9/8c on NBC to pick up where the previous series left off at Jesus' crucifixion.

"A.D. picks up where the smash hit, 'The Bible,' left off, continuing the greatest story ever told and exploring the exciting and inspiring events that followed the Crucifixion of Christ," describes NBC. "As most of the world knows, the Crucifixion was only the beginning of the story. The immediate aftermath of Christ's death had a massive impact on his disciples, his mother Mary, and key political and religious leaders of the era, completely altering the entire world in an instant. Watch as the disciples struggle to survive and share their beliefs, guiding us from the sorrow of Christ's ultimate sacrifice to the awe-inspiring wonder of the Resurrection and beyond. From Executive Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes an uplifting spiritual journey through the later chapters of biblical history."

Late last year, while filming the new series in Morocco, the cast and crew of the film reported seeing an inspirational sight in the sky in the form of a cross.

"There they could see clouds had formed in a completely blue sky in the perfect shape of a cross," Downey said after the cross symbol was first spotted by actors Adam Levy and Babou Ceesay. "Everyone was stunned and filming stopped, as iPhones came out and everyone was snapping pictures."

This new series will take a heavy focus from the book of Acts, which also features a verse that sums up the holy cross sighting in the sky quite well: "I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke," Acts 2:19.

The consumer advocacy group Faith Driven Consumer says that faith-based entertainment is growing in popularity in the last few years, but it's not a trend based on a niche market. 

"It's not conscious reluctance in any way, but I think there was a misconception of looking at those things as being niche and not realizing they actually represent an enormous part of our country that is not finding programming that speaks specifically to them," said NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke regarding the success of The Bible series. "We're looking to change that."

And Chris Stone, Faith Driven Consumer's founder, recognizes the importance of such a large network taking faith-based entertainment seriously. "We think it's a game-changer," he said. "It's a very pivotal point when one of the legacy networks, broadcast to the whole country, recognizes that the audience is there."

A poll conducted by FDC shows that 96% of faith-driven consumers report that their faith plays a major role in their entertainment choices, compared to only 47% of Christians overall. Considering the fact that FDC represents 41 million Christian consumers who spend $2 trillion annually, it's good to see that the entertainment industry -- or at least NBC -- is recognizing the importance of supporting movies and other forms of entertainment that are biblically accurate.

NBC is also holding a digital talk show companion series following the A.D. The Bible episodes to further discuss each episode. Hosted by Jason Kennedy, "Beyond A.D." will premiere on Sunday, April 12 at 9 a.m. ET.