THE CHOSEN: Art or Entertainment Heresy?

Exit only left a comment in my comments box on another thread where, in my judgment, with all due respect, I conclude it does not belong. But I do not with the conversation to be erased, so I have taken the liberty of moving it to this space.

The exchange was as follows, and may continue in the comments below:

*** *** ***

Exit Only …(One comment)

That encounter Jesus had with the Canaanite woman? (Warning: rant ahead) I bet he got that from watching The Chosen, an entertainment heresy that dares to calls itself a series on the ministry of Christ. I’ve checked out a few scenes of the series posted on YT, and boy oh boy, do they play fast and loose with the scriptures to add soap opera drama. The episode where Jesus encounters the Canaanite woman, He is tasked by the woman for asking for water, and get this, Jesus meekly apologizes to the woman for being rude! The Son of God, apologizing for an apparent faux pas?! The Canaanite woman remains offended and huffy, even though she has slept around with multiple men, and her current beau is not her husband. Even by Samaritan apostate standards, I don’t think her own society would think much of her.

Other clips include the ancient false trope of Mary being a prostitute, Matthew the publican being autistic, and Jesus refusing to heal a crippled man because he somehow serves a purpose being crippled. Never mind I never read in the Gospels Christ refusing a petitioner plea to be healed and forgiven. I could not bear to view any more, lest my head explode. The actor portraying Jesus comes off as a wandering easy going smiling hippie , nstead of a strong Messiah with an urgent message to share and mission to accomplish to save all mankind.

When I criticized about the series in Church, warning others not to be accept it as a reasonable depiction, one person remarked that though he had not watched it, and had no opinion of the series, if it brought people’s attention to Christ, then that what was important.

Not wanting to cause an argument in Church, I let it pass. I wanted to reply: “Sure, it may bring people to Christ, but brings them to the wrong Christ. Its a lazy substitute for actually picking up a Bible to read first hand about His life, which the four Gospels provide a much more true and dramatic retelling of His ministry than any TV series designed to hijack His life for entertainment purposes”.

If the producers of The Chosen were honest, they should at least put a disclaimer title preceding every episode that states: “Based loosely on a true story”

***   *** ***

John C Wright … (One comment)

While some of your criticism has merit — I too was annoyed that Christ was portrayed as not healing a cripple, and I too am disappointed with the gentle hippie look of the actor playing Jesus — I respectfully but strongly disagree with your urging folk not to watch this show. It is a wonderful show, perhaps the best portrayal in fiction of the Gospel story ever filmed.

The scene when Jesus is seen walking across the stormy sea, and his men think he is a spirit, is as striking and awesome and well done as anything I can imagine. I am grieved that you might talk someone out of seeing that, because you exaggerate small complaints to condemn the whole.

As if one were to condemn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on the grounds that God is portrayed in manlike shape, not breathing life into Adam’s nostrils, but touching his hand instead. It would be a literally accurate complaint, and miss the whole point.

As for whether Mary Magdalen was a prostitute, your complaint has to be taken up with over a thousand years of tradition. Expecting a fiction story to ignore the traditional lore surrounding the stories is unfair and untoward.

Likewise, no one expects the abbreviated summary penned in the Gospel to be the whole script of a movie, as it would prove much too brief, so no one needs a warning that the movie is fiction.

Your objection to the soap opera is therefore out of place. The thing is meant to be fiction, not a documentary. The homely and little details of what it might have seemed like to the men destined to be his disciples when they first met Jesus, how shocking the changes might have been to the daily lives, is the whole point of making a fictional account. The soap opera is the point. People watch fictional shows of the lives of the Apostles to indulge a curiosity about the trivial domestic details of their lives.

Every viewer can see it is not a documentary. Every viewer can see that they took dramatic liberties with the material, and no one expects otherwise.

I am shocked that you scoff at the portrayal of Matthew. Certainly there is no Biblical evidence that Matthew was awkward or autistic, but the cleverness of depicting how strongly his family and neighbors would have objected to his collaboration with the Romans is augmented by the cleverness of making him awkward and autistic, that is, precisely the kind of fellow likely to get himself in this situation.

As a fiction character, the writing touching Matthew is brilliant, as clever as making Peter a gambler, or the Roman procurator a jovial villain, or having Jesus address an Egyptian woman in her native language — since, of course, he was raised during his youth in that country, even if he had not had the gift of all tongues.

It is the clever and realistic touch as showing Simon the Zealot carrying a knife. Obviously the Bible does not say he did or he did not, but it is a detail that could have been just so, and if it had been, it would have been this way. There are many examples of such fine craftsmanship throughout.

The scene with the Samaritan woman at the well was extremely well handled, and I did not even notice that line that caused you such grief.
Indeed, there is nothing in the Gospel portrayed Jesus as rude, except to Pharisees. I do recall that Pharisees criticized him for his kindness toward harlots and unclean women.

The show comes with my strongest recommendation. Not every detail will strike every viewer as correct, but anyone who refuses to make allowances, and grant the writers artistic license, forestalls a profoundly well done and even sublime experience, for no real gain.

But, yes, the actor playing Christ is miscast. He is much too meek and mild for my taste.

***   ***   ***

Bellomy …(Three comments)

I’m gonna head off the argument and say that whatever you say, you can have the last word – but I hope Mr. Wright does write a review of “The Chosen”, a show he has also admitted greatly admiring, one day soon.


Just for starters – you just conflated two completely unrelated Bible stories that the Chosen did not conflate, and you incorrectly state it portrays Mary Magdalene as a former prostitute when it very explicitly does not.


I’ve seen some doozy bad takes on “The Chosen”, but this one really takes the cake. You not only get facts about the show wrong, you get the Bible wrong (where The Chosen gets it right).