The Chosen is an introduction to Jesus for a generation that has not grown up attending Sunday School and VBS. It is a way to show people who Jesus is and what He did in His earthly sojourn - a visually pleasing artistic rendering that will hopefully interest people in learning more about the faith.
There is an online TV series called The Chosen that is about the life of our Lord and His disciples. I decided to watch it and write not so much a formal review as a response of my impression of it. I fully expected it to be bad, given Hollywood and Christian filmmaking in general. But I was pleasantly surprised.
Most confessional Lutherans probably won’t like it - at least not at first glance - but I actually do. I’m well beyond the age of trying to fit in. It is one of the few benefits of getting old.
We Lutherans are often sticklers for historical accuracy, and in many ways, this series accurately conveys the first century Greco-Roman world: the geography, level of technology, the various groups of people and stations in life, etc. Some of my friends who are experts in military uniforms and period fabrics might disagree with me, but from my perspective as a lay observer, the screenplay is convincing and humanizes our typical mental view of the Roman world of marble statues with broken off arms and no irises in the eyes. The ancient Roman world was, in fact, colorful and vibrant, and first century urban life featured roads, shopping complexes, apartments and houses, sports arenas, schools, theaters, marketplaces, brothels, soldiers, government bureaucrats, and families with children. Some people even had running water thanks to Roman technology. Video is a medium that can “colorize” our distant, sanitized, bloodless, and dehumanized mental picture of the ancient world.
But there are non-historical details as well: Jews being portrayed as a multi-racial people (from northern-European-looking whites to African blacks), and women serving in social roles that they would not have had in the first century. While the Roman Empire was certainly multicultural, it is certainly being overplayed in The Chosen. Some of this may be a concession to the modern “woke” sensibilities - a common reality in modern filmmaking that is certainly annoying to me. However, to put a better construction on it, it may also be simple artistic license to appeal to modern viewers who come from a more multicultural way of life than Judea and Samaria of the first century - not to mention being biblically and culturally illiterate.
And this is key to understanding the series. It is not a documentary. It is not a bio-pic. It is, rather, art - and art does not always deal in literalism.