The series encompasses five hours of the Old Testament and five hours of the New Testament.
They took many artistic liberties to compress the story lines while hoping to remain true to the story.
A public relations manager for the project described the liberties to me as "extra-biblical but not contra-biblical."
For instance, in the series opener, the Book of Genesis stories of Adam and Eve and Noah unfold together. Noah and his family are already on the ark while the flood waters batter their boat. To calm his family, Noah tells them the story of creation: "In the beginning! ... " Noah bellows as he runs around plugging leaks and comforting his family and the animals.
Similarly, in the story of David and Goliath, when David heads out to face the giant Philistine foe, he clutches his sling and quietly begins to recite the 23rd Psalm, "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil." David is considered the author of the psalm, but nowhere in the text of the David and Goliath story does it address what he said as he walked out to battle and slay Goliath.
The dialogue in much of the story is similarly constructed along the lines of the bare-bones text. When Jesus calls Peter to be his disciple, Peter asks, "What are we going to do?" Jesus answers, "We're going to change the world." Those lines never appear in the Gospel accounts, but Burnett and Downey insist it is consistent with the text.
"Every step of the way we've had scholars and theologians working with us," Downey said.
Burnett and Downey consulted a wide range of pastors and academics, including a major evangelical leader and a Catholic cardinal.
Their advisory panel consisted of many people from varied backgrounds familiar with sharing the stories of the Bible rather than of a "who's who" of Biblical academics.
Joel Osteen, a popular television preacher and pastor of the 30,000-member Lakewood church in Houston, was among those consulted. Osteen and Burnett are friends and were developing a television series together that went on the back burner during the production of this series. Osteen even took his family to Morocco during some of the filming.
"[Burnett] would send scripts our way and ask doctrinal or Bible questions about it, but a lot of it was a friendship and an advisory role," Osteen said.
Osteen said much of his work was confirming if the extrabiblical material stayed true to the Bible.
His encouragement to Burnett was to "use your creativity to fill in between the lines."
Another consultant was Rabbi Joshua Garroway, an assistant professor at the Hebrew Union College and an expert on early Christianity and the Second Jewish commonwealth (circa 530 B.C. to 70 A.D.) Judaism. He was a paid consultant on the project.
"One of the issues that came up frequently in the comments was the goal of the production was to remain faithful, or at least as faithful as possible, to the narrative and text of the Bible, as opposed to a historical critical approach," he said.
"The series is not meant to be a historical feature but as a representation of the biblical narrative which is at times historical and at times not," Garroway said.
One reason Garroway thought he was brought in was because in parts of the New Testament, "there are less than generous depictions of Jews, Jewish leaders and Jewish traditions."
One of several Jewish scholars involved, his role as a New Testament scholar was to help the production stay faithful to the text but also "diminish as much as possible scenes or statements that could be construed as overly negative toward Jews and Jewish judgment."
While he thinks the project has an overall Christian orientation, "I think they did well."
"I don't think it will run into the same problems that Mel Gibson's movie ("The Passion of the Christ") did because the producers have been somewhat conscientious about forestalling some of the things that could produce that effect in the Jewish community," he said, referring to perceptions of anti-Semitism from the 2004 film.
Osteen thinks the project will have a lasting impact in churches. He plans to use pieces of the project in his services to help illustrate points he'll make in his sermons.
"I know I'm biased because I'm their friend, but I think it'll be something that will live on for generations because it's done with excellence, not knocking anything else, it's just this is production 50 years past where some of the other films were made," he said.
Burnett and Downey also think this project will be their most lasting and most viewed.
Burnett said the couple have deferred all their fees for the project. They probably don't need the money anyway. Forbes lists Burnett as among its 100 highest-earning celebrities with an estimated income of $55 million in 2012.
While the History Channel owns the exclusive North American rights to the project, Burnett and Downey own the rights to global distribution and theatrical airings, which are in the works. There is also a book tie-in, games and apps attached to the project.
For the couple, the project was not about turning a profit, though they likely will. Instead, it was about bringing new life to the stories of their faith for a new audience.
"Will it be screened in movie theaters? Yes, for sure. "Already been approached. Arenas, churches, every way you can imagine," Burnett said.
Burnett ticked through the shows he and Downey have put together over the years. "Over the next 25 years," he said, "more people will see this than all the others combined."