I have come very late to the party for the acclaimed, crowd-funded dramatic series The Chosen. Even though my colleague Rachel Bulman reassured us all that it was not a typically “kitschy or pretentious” offering from the Christian entertainment industry, I kept my distance. But with the recent debut of season 2, I decided to take a look. I am thoroughly sold on it, and inspired.
This season picks up with Jesus and the apostolic band continuing to make their way through Samaria and Syria. The episodes are composed so far of one deeply affecting scene after another, with superb acting led by Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus. In the first three episodes of the new season, the apostles Thomas, Matthew, and Philip have come into prominence, and the introduction of Nathaniel has offered another new, deeply moving example of the life-changing power of the God-man Jesus that The Chosen always seems to get right.
Episode 1, entitled “Thunder,” begins and ends with scenes years after the events of Jesus’s ministry, as John talks to Our Lady about “how to begin” telling the story of their Lord—contrasting his approach with Matthew’s—and in this way invites us into an almost Ignatian contemplation of what it would have been like to be there with the disciples. And while casual viewers should be cautioned not to think that Christians can just make up Bible stories and peddle them as truth, The Chosen knows how to create peripheral, hypothetical situations that intensify rather than obscure what Scripture already says.