The Chosen is recently launched television drama based on the life of Jesus Christ. The series’ creators wanted to distinguish this new series from previous portrayals of Jesus by crafting a multi-season, episode-based story rather than a single film that depicts a single moment or attempts to depict his entire life. The series will portray Jesus “through the eyes of those who met him”.
When I first saw the Facebook advertisements, I confess I was not really interested in another film version of the life of Christ, for reasons I won’t explain here. They kept coming (thank you, Facebook algorithm). Even with an offer to watch the first episode for free was an insufficient inducement to dive in. Then I read some interesting Facebook comments, ranging from a couple that were extremely negative, to the majority that really loved the first episode, with some purchasing the next three episodes (more on that later).
So why not watch the free episode? So I did.
Here’s the opening disclaimer which was similar to those at the beginning of previous Bible based films.
“The Chosen is based on the true stories of the gospels of Jesus Christ. Some locations and timelines have been combined or condensed. Backstories and some characters or dialogue have been added.
However, all biblical and historical content and artistic imagination are designed to support the truth and intention of the Scriptures. Viewers are encouraged to read the gospels.”
The key phrases in the above disclaimer are “based on true stories”, “designed to support the truth and intention of scriptures”. “Viewers are encouraged to read the gospels.” might well have been followed by “….. if you are more interested in what is actually true”. Trust me.
If you hate spoilers, read no further.
The Episode 1 main biblical characters are Nicodemus, Peter & Andrew, Lilith/Mary Magdalene, Matthew, and Jesus of curse (at the very end of the episode). That they are actual characters in the Bible is definitely true. Most of what is told about them in the first episode is pretty much some of the material that was ‘added’ to the biblical account.
The episode follows three story lines. It begins with the Lilith/Mary Magdalene character as a small child who is often troubled in the night, and whose Father tells her to ‘read the words’, a reference to a passage in Isaiah. She appears off and on throughout the film, at the end having demons cast out by Jesus, but not as dramatically as the Jesus in the “Jesus, His Life” Mary Magdalene episode. I had to look up the ‘Lilith’ name, by which she is called until the very end when Jesus calls her ‘Mary’. Lilith was a winged female demon in Babylonian mythology. Her story actually appears in Hebrew mythology.
Next we see Nicodemus traveling down a dusty road with his wife, on his annual visit to Capernaum. It was during this visit that Nicodemus is called upon to perform an exorcism on a woman who was causing a lot of trouble. It was the Lilith character, and Nicodemus fails, setting up the deliverance by Jesus at the end of the episode.
We meet Peter and Andrew in an early form of ‘Fight Club’, or so it seems. They have a racket going. Peter does the fighting and Andrew controls much of the gambling going on. They are of course fishermen, but Roman taxes are driving them out of business. They are condemned by Nicodemus as unholy and wicked men because they go fishing on Shabbat.
Then we have Matthew, the much hated Hebrew tax collector. In the film, there is a scene in which Peter and Andrew appear at his tax collection window and they don’t have enough to pay their taxes and penalties, even though they filed numerous extensions (like with the IRS). The get out of paying (for now) because of a ‘deal’ made with Quintus, a Roman official.
Enough of the story lines. I left out a lot of the details, which were actually interesting, even though most of it was from the imagination of the writers. In the telling of the stories there was also a bit of well-planned suspense. It was hard to put things together during the film sequence, but if you know your Bible, you can see how things are tied together. The ending was intended to get you interested in watching more, for sure! If you like a good story, with some pretty good action, some suspense, and a good sound track, go for it – for a price
To ‘unlock’ the next episodes all you need to is pay $29.99 you can watch all of the episodes, get an exclusive DVD, a free devotional guide, and a FREE 3 month subscription to VidAngel, the streaming service hosting the multi-year series.
If you like this sort of entertainment, go for it. Judging by Facebook comments, may do. Some thought the first episode was REALLY good! One lady said she ‘was moved to tears’! I was hammered by one person who thought my saying I would review it for Biblical accuracy was being way too ‘negative’.
On the other hand, if you don’t think that wrapping a lot of fiction around characters of the Bible is appropriate for serious Christians, if you think that God’s written revelation to his children is worth far more than being used for entertainment purposes, don’t waste your money.
It’s up to you.
Thank you for honestly describing the truth of this new film. It is indeed wrapping a great deal of fiction into God’s revelation. I can’t believe how many are swallowing it as if it is from God himself. A Jesus that built outhouses and Mary Magdalene as the first and favored apostle. This is suspicially the script of the gnostic gospel of Mary Magdalene, “descendent of Lilith.”
You are welcome! The series will continue to be loved by many for its clean entertainment value. Others have also commented that it elevated Mary Magdalene to a position not found in the NT.
However, do you not think that this film is a great initiative to emphasize the goodness of Jesus to non-believers or lukewarm Christians? Nowadays, the majority of people are much more likely to watch a series, peppered with some fiction, than to ever read the Gospel. I believe that the excellence of the series lays, not in its accuracy, but in its ability to show a glimpse of God’s glory, love, and grace to the wider audience of people who wouldn’t have time or perhaps an interest in reading the pages of the Gospel. The ultimate idea would be that through this experience, people would become hungry for the actual Word, for more time with him, for more wisdom leading them to the Church and towards Scripture. All I am saying is that I do not think we should disapprove of people trying to share the Gospel, we should support each other in our efforts and, yes, of course, correct each other: but perhaps in a kinder, not so condescending fashion. Thank you though, I absolutely do trust your say about it and maybe won’t watch it after all
Thanks for your comments! I believe you are correct in saying that people would rather watch a series than perhaps just read the Bible. That goes for believers and non-believers. I also agree that sharing the gospel with a lost world is our number one purpose as believers. If non-believers gain an interest in Jesus because of watching a series it’s primarily because God has opened a heart to ‘hear’, like Lydia in Acts 16.I believe Romans 8:7-8 & 1 Cor 2:14 attest to that. Having said that, I would rather just share that gospel face to face and avoid needing to deal with the inaccuracies unbelievers could easily assume as being true. I can’t count the many times through the years (I’m 71) that I’ve discovered that the Bible didn’t really say this or that. Having said all that, my chief concern is that the TRUE gospel is the gospel we share, the one that discusses the problem of sin and the need for repentance, which is sadly missing in so many of today’s evangelical churches. To this old guy, salvation is not a complicated process. God opens hearts to hear and sends messengers to share the message. I am blessed to have occasions to be the messenger, It’s the greatest privilege God has given to his children! 🙂
Again, thanks so much for your kind and salient comments!
You may watch for free , by downloading the app. There is much about day to day living of Jesus and his discipleswe don’t know. Seems you don’t want them viewed as just men. Falliable sinning men. Who will be shaped through sacrifice into Great men . What’s wrong with wondering about their everyday lives . Using history as well about day to day life . I see the things you speak of but it doesn’t out weigh the fact that their basic story is right. The bible does not tell us how the diciples died. We reli on history . I bet you tell of their martyrdom. But how do you really know. I’m so glad the Lord has not convicted me of this show . I see whats fictious what’s not . People all over are turning to their bibles and reading his word because of it. So sorry you feel convicted over it . Maybe you should pray about why that is
Actually, Ma’am, I wasn’t ‘convicted’ over the series. I am in the habit of providing
objective reviews (as much as I can) of some of today’s Christian viewing fare. If people end up reading their Bibles after watching it, more power to them, especially if they recognize what is actually and what is not. Many people are fine with adding conjecture to what the Biblical text tells us, and some are not. Much of “The Chosen” series is just that, conjecture, without any historical backing, as something like the death of the Apostles does have. Some believe that the Bible is rich enough all on it’s own and we don’t need additional material to keep us interested. As it is written, Scripture is sufficient for every good work. being God’s word and all.
At any rate, I wish you all the best!
BTW, I did another post about the series at: https://thebattlecry49.com/2020/05/04/the-chosen-angelvid-tv-series-updated/