Unlike most other Jesus movies which tend to go for Adaptation Distillation and/or Adaptation Expansion, the film is strictly based on just one of The Four Gospels, namely the Gospel of Matthew. The events, structure, dialogue and narration are taken virtually word-for-word from Matthew using the New International Version translation. No part is skipped, so the film runs for over four hours.
Followed by The Visual Bible: Acts, which dramatizes the Acts of the Apostles, with Marchiano reprising his role. The same company behind them, Visual Bible International, later produced The Gospel of John in 2003 with Henry Ian Cusick as Jesus.
See also Jesus, a 1979 film based word-for-word on the Gospel of Luke.
Tropes found in this work include:
- Adapted Out: Anything relating to Jesus that isn't in the Gospel of Matthew, though it may be in the other three Gospels or elsewhere in the Bible, isn't shown.
- Bible Times: Well, naturally.
- Framing Device: The film has the apostle Matthew dictating his Gospel to a group of scribes.
- Jesus Was Way Cool: Marchiano's Jesus is nearly always joyful and warm, an extremely Nice Guy who's a Friend to All Children. He's also more down to earth than the solemn, even ethereal portrayals in other films like Jesus of Nazareth or The Greatest Story Ever Told. Comparable to the Jesus in the 1999 film Jesus. While some critics welcomed the departure from solemn, stern, even ethereal portrayals of the past, others thought this portrayal lacked gravitas.
- Looks Like Jesus: Downplayed, since Marchiano doesn't have the long hair associated with Jesus (the Gospels are silent about his physical appearance).
- Messianic Archetype: Jesus Christ, of course.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Jesus sounds rather American, as The Queen's Latin is averted.
- Shirtless Scene: In one scene Jesus and his disciples are working in a field, apparently as hired hands. Marchiano shows off his Carpet of Virility.
- Time Skip: Jesus is shown Returning to Israel as a child and then it transitions to Jesus getting baptized at around 30.
- Third-Person Person: When Matthew mentions himself.