What Nationality Is Jesus In The Chosen?

by Barbara

The Chosen has captivated millions with its fresh, humanized portrayal of the life of Jesus Christ and his disciples. The series, directed by Dallas Jenkins, delves into the lives of the people who knew Jesus and provides a nuanced depiction of his ministry. One recurring question from viewers is about the nationality of Jesus as portrayed in the series. This article will explore the depiction of Jesus’ nationality in The Chosen, supported by historical and cultural data.

1. Understanding Jesus’ Historical Background

Jesus’ Ethnic and Cultural Roots

Historically, Jesus of Nazareth was a Jewish man born in Bethlehem, a town in Judea (modern-day Israel and Palestine), during the first century. His ethnicity was Jewish, and he was raised in a Jewish cultural and religious context. This background is crucial to understanding his identity.


Historical Evidence: According to historical texts, including the Bible and other contemporary records, Jesus was a Jew who lived in a Jewish society, followed Jewish customs, and participated in Jewish religious practices.


Cultural Practices: Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth, as per Jewish tradition (Luke 2:21). He celebrated Jewish festivals such as Passover (Luke 22:1-20), attended synagogue services (Luke 4:16), and taught from the Hebrew Scriptures.


Geographical Context

The geographical context of Jesus’ life also plays a vital role in understanding his nationality. He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, and conducted his ministry primarily in the regions of Galilee, Judea, and Samaria.

Bethlehem and Nazareth: Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, and Nazareth, where he grew up, are located in present-day Israel. During Jesus’ time, these regions were part of the Roman province of Judea.

Roman Influence: The Roman occupation influenced the social and political environment of the region, but the cultural and religious life remained predominantly Jewish.

2. Portrayal of Jesus in The Chosen

Casting and Characterization

In The Chosen, Jesus is portrayed by Jonathan Roumie, an actor of Egyptian and Syrian descent. The casting choice reflects an attempt to present Jesus in a manner consistent with historical and cultural accuracy, avoiding the often Westernized depictions common in earlier films and series.

Jonathan Roumie’s Background: Roumie’s Middle Eastern heritage adds authenticity to his portrayal of Jesus, aligning with the historical Jesus’ Middle Eastern background. His performance has been praised for its depth and relatability.

Physical Appearance: The series aims to depict Jesus with physical features that are more historically plausible for a first-century Jewish man from the Middle East, such as darker skin, dark hair, and Middle Eastern facial features.

Cultural Depiction

The Chosen places a strong emphasis on the cultural and religious context of Jesus’ life. The series highlights various aspects of Jewish life, including religious practices, social customs, and the historical context of Roman occupation.

Jewish Practices: The show accurately portrays Jewish customs and traditions, such as Sabbath observance, prayer rituals, and festival celebrations, providing a rich cultural backdrop to Jesus’ ministry.

Historical Context: By depicting the Roman occupation and its impact on Jewish society, The Chosen provides a realistic setting that enhances the authenticity of Jesus’ portrayal.


3. Viewer Reactions and Cultural Impact

Positive Reception

The Chosen has received widespread acclaim for its portrayal of Jesus and his followers, with particular praise for its cultural and historical accuracy.

Viewer Feedback: Fans have lauded the series for bringing a relatable and humanized depiction of Jesus. Reviews on platforms like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb highlight the show’s authenticity and the emotional depth of the characters.

Critical Acclaim: Critics have also praised the series for its fresh take on the story of Jesus, with many noting its commitment to historical and cultural detail.

Cultural Discussions

The portrayal of Jesus’ nationality in The Chosen has sparked discussions about representation and accuracy in media.

Representation in Media: The choice to cast a Middle Eastern actor in the role of Jesus has been seen as a positive step towards more accurate representation in religious and historical storytelling.

Educational Value: The series has also been used as an educational tool, helping viewers understand the Jewish roots of Christianity and the historical context of Jesus’ life.

4. Historical and Biblical Support

Biblical Descriptions

The Bible provides numerous references that support the Jewish identity and cultural background of Jesus.

Genealogy: The genealogies in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 1:1-17) and Luke (Luke 3:23-38) trace Jesus’ lineage back to Abraham and David, emphasizing his Jewish heritage.

Teachings: Jesus’ teachings are deeply rooted in Jewish Scripture and tradition. He often referenced the Torah and the Prophets, demonstrating his intimate knowledge of Jewish religious texts.

Historical Records

Non-biblical historical records from the first century also provide evidence of Jesus’ Jewish identity.

Josephus: The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus mentioned Jesus in his works, referring to him as a wise man and teacher who performed astonishing deeds and was called the Christ (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3).

Tacitus: The Roman historian Tacitus also mentioned Jesus in his Annals (Book 15, Chapter 44), describing his execution under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.

5. Academic Perspectives

Scholarly Consensus

The consensus among scholars and historians is that Jesus was a Jewish man who lived in the first-century Roman province of Judea.

Historical Jesus Research: Scholars such as E.P. Sanders, John P. Meier, and Bart D. Ehrman have extensively researched the historical Jesus, concluding that his Jewish identity is an essential aspect of his life and teachings.

Cultural Context: Academic studies emphasize the importance of understanding Jesus within the context of Second Temple Judaism, the period during which he lived and taught.

Implications for Understanding Jesus

Recognizing Jesus’ nationality and cultural background is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of his life and message.

Religious Significance: Understanding Jesus’ Jewish identity helps clarify the religious and theological significance of his teachings and actions within the context of Jewish tradition.

Interfaith Relations: Acknowledging the Jewish roots of Jesus can also foster greater understanding and dialogue between Christians and Jews.


In The Chosen, Jesus is depicted with a strong emphasis on his historical and cultural background, aligning closely with scholarly research and biblical accounts. The casting of Jonathan Roumie, an actor of Middle Eastern descent, and the series’ detailed portrayal of Jewish customs and traditions, contribute to an authentic representation of Jesus’ nationality. This approach has resonated with audiences and sparked important discussions about representation and accuracy in media. Understanding Jesus’ Jewish identity is essential for appreciating the depth and context of his life and teachings, enriching both religious and historical perspectives.

The Chosen continues to be a powerful medium for exploring the life of Jesus, offering viewers a historically grounded and culturally rich depiction that honors his true identity. Through its commitment to accuracy and authenticity, the series helps bridge the gap between historical scholarship and popular media, providing a valuable resource for both educational and spiritual exploration.

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