Over the past year I have been seeing that "The Chosen" tv series was being advertised on social media and on the radio and several other places.
Now during this time I had no clue what it was, I saw the previews and said to myself "oh that might be cool, I donno". I never saw an episode of it until my fiancé said one day, "I want to see this show called The Chosen". So I do as I always do and fired up the AppleTV to see if it can be purchased there and sadly it was not. Then we found the first 4 episodes are for free on the Chosen iPhone App that could be beamed to your AppleTV through airplay. We saw the first episode and I started to get an idea of what it was about. I then downloaded the VidAngel app on my AppleTV so we could watch all 8 episodes.
Now, let me first preference, I am in no way a film critic. I actually think the Lost Skeleton of Cadavera is a hilarious masterpiece while my friends see it as being one below Tommy Wisseau's The Room. So if you are looking for an in-depth critical review of how the "Best Boy" or the other jobs of various film crew positions that I could not even tell you what they do, then you have come to the wrong place. I will be approaching this review from the vantage points of "did I dig it?" and was it theologically a dud or something beneficial to the faith based communities.
Coming into the first episode, as I said before, I said to myself after watching it, "Ok I kinda have an idea about this and it was enjoyable." One of the things I immediately liked is usually when Jewish elements are put into Christian movies or series, many tend to get a Hebrew Roots person on staff and they tend to cause the film to be filled with Sacred Name theology, and you see a gross misunderstanding of Judaism and of Christianity for that matter in these movies. I was deathly afraid of the fact that this is what I may see in this series, which is one of the reasons I slightly avoided it. There was a certain movie that was released that this had happened to, and when I would hear an attempt in said film of an attempt to say "this is how toileting pronounce the 4 letter name of G-d" in the writing room I cringed as a Hebrew and Aramaic teacher, not only because of how wrong they were but also because as a Jew we don't say the 4 letter name of G-d as it is disrespectful and against halakha. Those things will cause me to run away immediately. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised with the first episode because the duration of the series no such attempts were made with the Chosen, that I honestly really liked.
Though I was still a little confused initially, as an avid reader of the Bible and of rabbinic jewish texts that give us a lot of background into even some of the New Testament characters such as Nicodemus and Peter. I asked Mr Dallas Jenkins essentially, where the narratives of the backstory of the disciples and other characters came from. The words he used were along the lines of a fictional narrative. Some may take issue with that, but I do not. Here is my reasoning, upon understanding this I was better able to see how to approach this film. I also noticed some familiar faces in the first episode such as Eric Avant (from Mr Deeds and Paul Blant Mall Cop) who played Nicodemus as well as Janis Dardaris (from the Sixth Sense, and Law and Order). The entire cast was extremely endearing and did an amazing job drawing you in.
I was also surprised to hear that Paras Patel (who plays Matthew) like myself , has Asperger's Syndrome, and I saw a lot of myself in his character after this was revealed to me by some people. His movements and stuff my fiancé even pointed out to me I do some of the same things.
The story narrative is incredibly engaging and well written to where biblical narratives are indeed tied into the back stories and in the journey Jesus goes on with his disciples in the first season. The writing in terms of this I see as brilliant and was executed very well.
Now, I personally watch a ton of Christian and Jewish films. I like when they are mutually exclusive to the two communities because oftentimes the waters are muddied when the two are attempted to be out together, which was one of my initial worries of the project. But I was pleasantly surprised to see the two come together in a really responsible way as opposed to in a sensationalized way like other projects from other individuals have done in the past. If you are a Christian you will love this series, if you are a Lapid Jew you will respect the love and care that was put into this film and how it doesn't demonize judaism in anyway shape or form.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism