The Chosen has become one of the most popular Christian TV shows in recent years, exploring the life and ministry of Jesus through a dramatic lens. With stunning cinematography and compelling performances, The Chosen aims to make the stories of the Gospels come alive.
But how accurate is The Chosen in its portrayal of biblical events and characters? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Overall, The Chosen takes some creative license in bringing the Gospels to the screen, but remains reasonably faithful to the spirit and major events of the biblical accounts.
In this comprehensive article, we’ll examine the key similarities and differences between The Chosen series and the Bible. We’ll look at how The Chosen expands on biblical stories and adds dramatic elements, while also considering where it adheres closely to scripture.
Whether you’re a fan of the show or simply curious about its faithfulness to the Gospels, read on for a detailed look at the biblical accuracy of The Chosen.
Portrayals of Jesus, Disciples, and Other Characters
In The Chosen, Jesus is portrayed in a very human way that is relatable but still divine. While the Gospels focus mainly on Jesus’ public ministry years, The Chosen explores His early life and development.
Viewers get a glimpse into His family life as a carpenter in Nazareth and interactions with friends like Mary Magdalene. Jesus is shown as approachable, friendly, and down-to-earth but there are subtle nods to His divine nature.
For example, in season 1 when Jesus quietly releases a demon from a possessed boy with a simple word. Jesus’ sense of humor and emotional intelligence are highlighted without taking away from His compassion and wisdom.
Mary Magdalene’s portrayal in The Chosen provides backstory and context not found in the Bible. She is depicted as a hurting woman in need of love and belonging, not the sexualized stereotype seen in some films. Mary’s faith grows as she encounters Jesus and realizes His genuine care for her.
Their friendship gives new insight into why Mary Magdalene was so devoted to Jesus. Fans appreciate the vulnerability and humanity The Chosen gives Mary and the other female disciples. Her courageous support of Jesus in season 2 is inspiring.
This portrayal adheres to the Biblical text but adds meaningful social and cultural context.
As a member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus is cautiously fascinated by Jesus in The Chosen. He pursues honest conversations under cover of night to avoid backlash from other religious leaders. Nicodemus’ struggle to balance faith and public perception encourages viewers with similar fears.
The Chosen likely expands on Nicodemus more than the Bible itself does but in a way that aligns with his inquisitive nature mentioned in John 3. This thoughtful exploration of his inner turmoil provides a realistic Motivation for why he ultimately defends Jesus.
While embellished, The Chosen’s Nicodemus fuels intellectual discussion about what this quest for truth may have looked like.
Storylines Drawn Directly From the Gospels
The Chosen takes stories directly from the Gospels and expands upon them to imagine what Jesus’ daily life and relationships were like. According to the creators, even when they extrapolate based on the text, the underlying events align with Scripture.
Jesus Healing the Paralytic
In season one episode two of The Chosen, Jesus heals a paralyzed man lowered through the roof by his friends. This miracle story is told in Matthew 9:2-8, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:17-26. The show builds out details like the skepticism of the religious leaders witnessing the event and conversations among the group of friends as they carry their paralyzed companion.
The Calling of the First Disciples
The events in The Chosen surrounding Jesus calling his first disciples, like Simon Peter and Andrew, parallel the account in Matthew 4:18-22. In The Chosen, Jesus invites the brothers to leave their fishing trade and catch people.
The dialogue allows the viewer to imagine how these men might have responded.
Jesus Calming the Storm
In a dramatic season one scene, The Chosen shows Jesus and his disciples caught in a dangerous storm at sea, which Jesus miraculously calms, saving them. This retelling from Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25 explores the disciples’ terror and awe at Jesus’ power and authority over the natural world.
Original Storylines Not Found in the Gospels
Jesus and Mary’s Backstories
One of the most notable original storylines in The Chosen is the exploration of Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s backstories before they began their ministries. The gospels provide little information about their early lives, so the show takes creative license to imagine what they might have been like.
For example, early episodes show a young Jesus working as a carpenter in Nazareth, grappling with the knowledge of his identity and greater purpose. We also see Mary Magdalene’s background as a severely demon-possessed outcast whose life is transformed by her encounter with Jesus.
While speculative, these backstories allow viewers to relate to and understand Jesus and Mary more deeply as real people who had ordinary lives before their extraordinary callings.
Nicodemus and Chuza’s Secret Support
The gospels mention Nicodemus and Chuza (Joanna’s husband in Luke 8:3) as followers of Jesus, but give few details. The Chosen expands their stories by depicting them as secret supporters providing resources for Jesus’ ministry.
Nicodemus is portrayed as a wealthy Pharisee who comes to believe in Jesus despite the disapproval of his peers in the Sanhedrin. Chuza is depicted as a high-ranking servant in Herod’s court who gives financial assistance. He believes in Jesus, though his wife Joanna is more devoted as a disciple.
While fictionalized, these storylines highlight the diversity of Jesus’ followers – from the wealthy and powerful to common folks from all walks of life.
Matthew’s Violent Past
The show takes liberty with Matthew’s backstory as well, depicting him as a former tax collector thug who hurt many people. Though Matthew the apostle was certainly a tax collector according to the gospels, his specific history is unknown.
Showrunner Dallas Jenkins explains this creative choice: “We wanted to give Matthew more of a backstory to make his redemption arc more profound. That’s a common storytelling technique.” While dramatized, this violent past makes Matthew’s transformation into a disciple who leaves everything behind to selflessly follow Jesus more poignant and remarkable.
It underscores Christ’s ability to reach and radically transform even those with the most stained histories.
Use of Miracles, Parables, and Sermons
Miracles Closely Adapted From Scripture
The Chosen takes creative license with some miracles, but largely stays true to the biblical accounts. Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, feeding the 5000, walking on water, healing the sick, and raising the dead are depicted much as described in the Gospels.
The show expands the Scriptural foundation with added dialogue and context, helping viewers imagine what these encounters were like. The miracles reveal Jesus’ compassion and power over nature and evil forces.
Parables Expanded and Dramatized
Many of Jesus’ parables are beautifully rendered in The Chosen, vividly bringing the stories to life. Details are added, such as naming characters and elaborating conversations, but the core messages remain intact.
For example, in the Parable of the Sower, a variety of reactions to the sower’s seeds are shown – birds coming, soil types failing, thorns choking, good soil thriving. This creative presentation makes the metaphor more memorable.
Other parables like the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, and the Talents are expanded into multi-episode story arcs. The characters and situations are fictionalized, but solidly based on Christ’s teachings. Their dramatization makes abstract concepts very relatable.
Sermons Generally Accurate
The Chosen’s depiction of Jesus’ sermons stays mostly faithful to Scripture. His messages about loving God and neighbor, caring for outcasts, forgiveness, and the Kingdom of Heaven align with the Gospels. Often, several verses are consolidated or reordered for clarity.
The Sermon on the Mount contains the essence of the biblical account, with some editorial rearrangement. Jesus’ words overall retain their original beauty, gravitas, and wisdom.
One place The Chosen takes liberties is inventing large crowds hanging on Jesus’ every word. The Gospels record many instances of teaching to disciples or other small groups. Still, the show’s creative choice to portray enthusiastic reactions helps convey the magnetism of Jesus as a teacher.
Cinematography, Costumes, and Historical Accuracy
The cinematography of The Chosen is simply stunning. Shooting on location in multiple countries helps transport viewers back in time to first century Jerusalem. Wide landscape shots capture the natural beauty of the region, from the Sea of Galilee to the Judean desert.
Close-ups during intimate conversations create connection and empathy. The camera work has an elegant, cinematic quality not often found in faith-based productions. As co-director Dallas Jenkins shares, “We’re trying to make something that looks and feels different than anything else that’s been done before.”
Their efforts have paid off beautifully.
Costumes Reflect the Time Period
The costume design in The Chosen is meticulously researched for historical accuracy. The textures and colors of fabrics, prints, and embellishments all work to immerse viewers in the first century world.
From the simple tunics of fishermen to the elegant robes of religious leaders, the wardrobes feel completely authentic. The diversity of attire between different classes, regions, and people groups is impressive.
As costume designer Amanda Jensen explains, “We try to base everything we do in historical fact and research.” For major characters, costumes evolve over seasons to reflect changing circumstances. The superb costuming transports audiences back in time.
Some Anachronisms Present
While The Chosen prioritizes historical research, some anachronisms have slipped through. Minor issues include hairstyles, jewelry, and other accessories that may not perfectly align with first century norms.
The show also takes some creative license with women’s roles and activities, which scholars argue may exceed what was common in that patriarchal context. However, the writers explain they seek to capture the “spirit” of the narrative over perfect historical precision.
Overall The Chosen makes an exceptional effort at recreating period details accurately while connecting with modern audiences. Small discrepancies can be forgiven considering the high caliber of the production overall.
In reviewing key elements of The Chosen series, we see a show that takes creative license in dramatizing the Gospels, while remaining committed to portraying the major events and teachings of Jesus’ ministry found in scripture.
The show expands on biblical narratives and characters in ways that enrich and humanize them for modern audiences.
While scholars may debate some interpretive choices, The Chosen largely succeeds in immersing viewers in the world of first century Palestine and bringing the words and works of Jesus to life. For audiences seeking both historical authenticity and an engaging on-screen depiction of the Gospel accounts, The Chosen offers an entertaining and meaningful viewing experience.