“A Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, and an evangelical scholar walk into ….” This sounds like the beginning of a joke with reference to a drinking establishment, but it is actually a reference to three people serving as consultants for the first ever multi-season television program on the life of Christ.
“The Chosen”—created, directed and co-written by filmmaker Dallas Jenkins—has eight episodes in its first season, seeking to portray Jesus in a historically plausible way with a patient and vigorous development of all the characters in the story. For background expertise and script consulting, the creators of the show have been conferring with Father David Guffee of St. Monica Catholic Church and national director at Family Theater Productions, Rabbi Jason Sobel of Fusion Ministries, and me, as a New Testament scholar. What’s more, director Jenkins pulls us consultants together for round table discussions of each episode. So, what sounds like the beginning of a joke turns out to be a gathering of experts for candid reflections on how Jesus and his original followers are portrayed in this ground-breaking streaming television series. As consultants, we have the opportunity to interact with the director discussing the robust character development in the story, reflecting upon the creative license utilized to portray the story in a visual format, and commenting on the program’s high-quality production value in portraying the first-century world. And, as might be expected, in these interactions we also enjoy some good-natured laughter.
What’s so ground-breaking about “The Chosen”? So far, three things can be said:
- As already mentioned, “The Chosen” is the first ever multi-season television program about the life of Jesus Christ. There have been scores of movies and television specials about Jesus, but “The Chosen” is a television series with plans to run for as many as seven years.
- “The Chosen” is by far the top crowdfunded film/TV project in history. In its first round of fundraising in January 2019, this project raised over $10.2 million from over 15,000 investors, unseating the previous crowdfunding record held by “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (which raised just over $5.7 million from over 48,000 investors in November and December of 2015). In 2017 Jenkins had posted to social media a short concept pilot entitled “The Shepherd,” which received over 15 million views. VidAngel, a streaming video company, took notice of this concept and worked with Jenkins to get the program up and running.
- VidAngel has developed an app so viewers can watch “The Chosen” on their smartphones and tablets, or (and here’s the notable plus) “The Chosen” can be cast from the phone or tablet to a television that is equipped with such devices as AndroidTV, AppleTV, Chromecast, FireTV, or Roku.
So, here is a moving television series, funded by thousands of viewers, and ready to be viewed in many different venues. Want to know more? See the VidAngel site at and checkout some behind the scenes information available on “The Chosen” Facebook page. It’s no joke: “The Chosen” will have you pondering and questioning, grieving and grimacing, wondering and rejoicing, crying and, yes, laughing.