Above, Jesus (center) and the “Sons of Thunder” James (left) and John (right) from The Chosen.
November 2021 – “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’” John 1:45-46
In Season 2, Episode 2 of the series The Chosen, viewers see John 1:45-46 acted out before their eyes. Yet the context added makes it more impactful. Nathanael is at the end of his rope. His dreams for a career in architecture have recently crumbled into dust. Phillip is an old friend who comes to encourage him. “Come and see” isn’t a passing phrase. It is Phillip offering his dejected friend purpose, meaning, and a greater calling.
This is one of many examples of how The Chosen adds vibrant color to the stories of the people in the gospels. Because of these artistic liberties, great writing, and attention to detail, the show has become a worldwide phenomenon.
The first of its kind
The Chosen is the first-ever multi-season show about Jesus. It has become the #1 highest crowd-funded media project of all time and has been translated into 50 languages and counting. Directed and written by Dallas Jenkins (son of bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins), the series has produced two seasons of professional-level television without the meddling of Hollywood or secular film companies. This gives them the freedom to operate on their own schedules and to have a hands-on approach with fans and supporters.
The Chosen adds definition to the framework of the gospel narrative. It is not unfeasible to wonder if each person that followed Jesus in the Bible had intricate and individual stories like Christians do today. They had personal connections to Jesus Christ. He touched their lives in ways only they truly understood. Subtle references to past and future events help to unify the episodes and tie seasons together as one story. This not only makes the series an encouragement for believers, but also an intriguing narrative for everyone. Jenkins and his creative team have breathed new life into the gospels in an extraordinary way.
The risks of artistic liberty
Though the show has been successful, it has not been without its detractors. Many feel that the “humanizing” of Jesus and the disciples is controversial, if not blasphemous.
For example, in Season 2, Episode 5, Jesus is seen practicing the Sermon on the Mount, rehearsing it in preparation for the famous upcoming event. In the “Director Reacts” video for that episode posted on The Chosen YouTube channel, Jenkins explained his thinking behind the scene and agreed that it is a plausible artistic liberty and not scriptural fact. He said, “I do believe it is plausible that Jesus would have prepared a sermon or would have worked through the best words for it.”
In response to some of the criticism, Kendra White, director and writer for American Family Studios, said, “Though some have criticized The Chosen series for ‘adding to the Scriptures, I don’t find it hard to separate what’s in my Bible from the artistic interpretation I see on the screen. For me, watching Jesus collapse in exhaustion after a long day of ministering to people or watching the disciples argue constantly…these things are reminders that these characters in my Bible were real people living in a real time in history with real problems.”
It is encouraging to see a group of creatives who want to engage with other Christians, even if they disagree on the hypotheticals. And the impressive fact remains: Countless people around the world have been introduced to the gospel through The Chosen. Indeed, the invitation offered to everyone is the invitation given to Nathanael: “Come and see.”
Looking ahead to Season 3
At publishing time, Season 3 has been 56% funded with filming set to start in fall 2021 and a tentative release date of early 2022. Learn more about The Chosen, watch past seasons, and support the project at watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen.