How Historically Accurate Is The Chosen?

by Barbara

The Chosen, a groundbreaking television series that dramatizes the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, has captivated audiences worldwide. Created by Dallas Jenkins, the series distinguishes itself by exploring the perspectives of the individuals who encountered Jesus. With its high production values, compelling storytelling, and deep character development, The Chosen has garnered both critical acclaim and a devoted fanbase. However, as with any work of historical fiction, questions arise regarding its accuracy. This article delves into the historical and cultural accuracy of The Chosen, examining its strengths, potential inaccuracies, and the balance it strikes between faith and history.

The Vision Behind The Chosen

Dallas Jenkins, the creator and director of The Chosen, envisioned a series that would humanize the biblical figures and make their stories more relatable to contemporary audiences. Jenkins, whose father is noted Christian author Jerry B. Jenkins, aimed to present a fresh perspective on the Gospels by focusing on the lives of the disciples and those around Jesus, rather than solely on Jesus Himself. This approach allows for a richer exploration of the cultural and social contexts of the time, providing a more immersive experience.


Biblical and Historical Sources

To achieve historical authenticity, the creators of The Chosen consulted a range of sources. These include the canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), historical texts, and contemporary scholarship. Additionally, the series benefited from the input of biblical scholars, theologians, and historians. This collaborative effort ensures that the narrative stays anchored in the historical and cultural realities of first-century Judea.


The Canonical Gospels

The primary source material for The Chosen is, naturally, the New Testament Gospels. These texts, while central to Christian faith, also serve as historical documents that provide insight into the life and times of Jesus and His followers. However, the Gospels were written decades after the events they describe and reflect theological as well as historical concerns, which means they sometimes leave gaps that the series must creatively fill.


Historical Texts and Archaeology

In addition to the Gospels, the creators of The Chosen drew from other historical texts and archaeological findings to enrich the narrative. Works by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, such as Antiquities of the Jews, provide context about the political and social environment of Judea under Roman rule. Archaeological discoveries help to reconstruct the daily life, architecture, and customs of the period, adding layers of authenticity to the settings and interactions depicted in the series.

Contemporary Scholarship

Modern biblical scholarship offers valuable insights into the historical Jesus and the world He inhabited. The series has incorporated research from various academic fields, including biblical studies, history, and cultural anthropology. This scholarly input helps to ground the narrative in historical plausibility, even when creative liberties are taken for dramatic purposes.

Character Development and Artistic License

One of the standout features of The Chosen is its deep character development. The series invests significant time in fleshing out the personalities, backstories, and interpersonal dynamics of the disciples and other figures around Jesus. While this enhances the storytelling, it also involves a degree of artistic license.

The Disciples

The Gospels provide limited details about the disciples, often focusing more on their roles as followers of Jesus rather than on their personal histories. The Chosen addresses this by creating elaborate backstories for each disciple, drawing on historical context and cultural norms to make these characters more relatable. For instance, the portrayal of Matthew as a socially awkward tax collector with Asperger’s syndrome is an imaginative but plausible interpretation based on his occupation and the societal attitudes towards tax collectors at the time.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene’s character is another example of the series’ creative approach. While the Gospels identify her as a follower of Jesus who was healed of seven demons, The Chosen expands her story to explore her background and struggles more deeply. This portrayal aims to highlight the transformative impact of Jesus’ ministry on individuals’ lives, even if some elements are speculative.

Jesus of Nazareth

Portraying Jesus in a way that is both relatable and reverent is a significant challenge. Jonathan Roumie’s portrayal of Jesus in The Chosen has been praised for its warmth, humanity, and accessibility. The series strives to present Jesus as a real person who lived in a specific historical context, while also maintaining the spiritual and miraculous aspects of His character as depicted in the Gospels.

See also: Did Yoshi Leave The Chosen?

Historical and Cultural Context

A key strength of The Chosen is its detailed depiction of the historical and cultural context of first-century Judea. The series emphasizes the complexities of life under Roman occupation, the diverse religious landscape, and the social dynamics of the time.

Roman Occupation

The Roman Empire’s presence in Judea is a constant backdrop in The Chosen. The series accurately portrays the tension between the Jewish population and their Roman rulers, highlighting issues such as taxation, military presence, and the influence of Roman law. Characters like the centurion Gaius and the tax collector Matthew provide perspectives on the interactions between Romans and Jews, adding depth to the narrative.

Religious Diversity

The Chosen also explores the religious diversity within Judaism during the Second Temple period. The series depicts various Jewish sects, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees, and their differing interpretations of the Torah and attitudes towards Roman rule. This diversity is crucial for understanding the religious landscape in which Jesus’ ministry unfolded.

Daily Life and Social Norms

The series pays attention to the details of daily life, from clothing and food to social customs and family structures. These elements help to create an immersive experience that transports viewers to the ancient world. The creators’ commitment to depicting authentic Jewish practices and traditions, such as Sabbath observance and temple worship, adds to the series’ historical credibility.

Balancing Faith and History

While The Chosen aims for historical accuracy, it also serves a devotional purpose. The series seeks to inspire and deepen viewers’ faith, which sometimes necessitates balancing historical facts with theological messages.

Miracles and Faith

The depiction of miracles in The Chosen reflects the accounts found in the Gospels. These miraculous events, central to the narrative, are presented with a sense of wonder and reverence. While modern viewers might question the historical veracity of such miracles, their inclusion is essential for maintaining the theological integrity of the series.

Theological Themes

The series weaves theological themes throughout its episodes, emphasizing messages of redemption, grace, and divine love. These themes are rooted in the Christian faith and are integral to the portrayal of Jesus and His ministry. While not all historical details can be verified, the series’ commitment to these core messages resonates with its audience.

Creative Liberties

The Chosen occasionally takes creative liberties to fill in gaps and enhance the narrative. These liberties are not intended to distort the historical record but to create a more engaging and coherent story. For example, the inclusion of fictional characters and composite figures helps to illustrate broader social and cultural realities without compromising the overall historical framework.

Reception and Impact

The reception of The Chosen has been overwhelmingly positive, with viewers praising its emotional depth, character development, and faithfulness to the spirit of the Gospels. The series has also sparked interest in the historical context of Jesus’ life, encouraging viewers to explore the Bible and related historical studies more deeply.

Critical Acclaim

Critics have lauded The Chosen for its high production values, nuanced performances, and fresh approach to familiar stories. The series’ success in crowdfunding and its widespread distribution through streaming platforms have made it a significant cultural phenomenon.

Educational Value

Beyond its entertainment value, The Chosen serves an educational purpose by shedding light on the historical and cultural background of the New Testament. The series’ attention to detail and its use of scholarly resources make it a valuable tool for those seeking to understand the context of Jesus’ life and ministry.

Viewer Engagement

The interactive and community-driven nature of The Chosen has also contributed to its impact. The series’ creators actively engage with their audience through social media, behind-the-scenes content, and live events, fostering a sense of connection and participation.


The Chosen stands out as a remarkable achievement in the realm of religious and historical drama. Its blend of historical accuracy, creative storytelling, and theological reflection offers a compelling portrayal of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. While the series takes certain artistic liberties, these are generally in service of a richer narrative and a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural context.

By consulting a wide range of sources and collaborating with experts, the creators of The Chosen have crafted a series that is both informative and inspiring. Whether viewed as a work of historical fiction or a devotional aid, The Chosen invites audiences to explore the timeless story of Jesus and His followers with fresh eyes and open hearts.

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