The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Thursday, July 14, 2022
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Looks as though I’ve given up on this blog. I haven’t posted anything since May, 2021, 14 months ago. I gave up on it. No one reads it anyway. To the degree that I write anything on this blog, it’s through some vain home that someday, somewhere, somehow it will be of some interest to someone. Maybe I myself might read it someday in the future, sort of like writing a diary and then going back to a chapter or two many years later. But thus far, even I haven’t been interested in doing that!

But maybe I do have some things to say about an interesting entertainment phenomenon that arose maybe three years ago and has attracted some popularity in some quarters. Obviously I myself have been attracted to this form of entertainment — although of course not without certain disagreements about many of its stories and depictions and presentations. Maybe that might be of some interest to someone else who has become familiar with this entertainment, right here in modern America in the 2020s.

Or maybe not. But I have some things to say about this interesting show, and I’d rather keep my thoughts organized and well-presented, rather then cast them widely across the broad expanses of social media. So what show am I talking about?

THE CHOSEN. It’s a very modern-ish and really hip historical version of “The Life of Christ”. But don’t worry, this is still about a Jesus that most Christians are comfortable with. Its produced by a young TV director named Dallas Jenkins. There have been two seasons of eight episodes thus far, and the third season is now in production for release in December (of this year). Jenkins is trying to mimic the success and the verve of modern cable channel shows such as Game of Thrones and West World and Station Eleven. And yet, stay true to the Gospel of John at the same time.

Most interesting! But of course, I myself am not particularly beholden to the Gospel of John. I myself hold a complicated view of Jesus, a Jesus who is not the Son of God, a Jesus who is not the Savior, a Jesus who is not true God and true man (although I can agree with the second half of the last line!). I have found a secular Jesus, a Jewish Jesus, an historical Jesus. I agree with the “apocalyptic” view of Jesus and his mission and movement, as many scholars (both recent and going back to Albert Schweitzer) propound. And yet, I feel that too many academicians focusing on Jesus lose his power, lost his true spiritual importance. They tend to “freeze dry” Jesus, and in so doing completely obviate the reason why he did not become just another forgotten fallen prophet.

The modern Jesus of the Book of Dallas Jenkins is NOT an apocalyptic preacher that a scholar like Prof. Bart Ehrman could feel comfortable with. I myself take pains to identify and point out the many likely historical mistakes that THE CHOSEN makes in developing Jesus’s character and ministry. It’s only Episode 2 of a planned 7 episodes, and yet the Jesus of Dallas is already clearly on his way to becoming a Christ who can be preached in most any Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentacostal or Orthodox parish. The big story here is about the coming of the eternal Christ to the whole world, and not the immediate coming of the Kingdom of God to Israel, as Jesus actually preached.

AND YET — THE CHOSEN puts a third dimension into all of the wonderful thoughts and readings about the historical Jesus that I’ve partaken over the past 25 years. Jenkins presents us with a Jesus who is much more alive and real than most any other Jesus movie I’ve ever seen. You can start feeling the vibes, the power, the intense relatedness that developed between Jesus and his followers. You can better understand why they would not let him disappear despite the best efforts of Pilate and the Sanhedrin. Despite all of the powerful thoughts presented in books and lectures by E.P. Sanders, Paula Fredriksen, Dale Allison, John Meier, Gerd Theissen and other great scholars, they cannot simulate the intense wave-fields of human relatedness that Jenkins seems to capture (despite his great historical errancies).

I hope to have more to say about THE CHOSEN over the next few months. This will be the place to find them. And P.S. — I won’t have all bad things to say about Jenkins’ treatment of history. In some matters, I really have to complement him! And hopefully I will soon get around to that. Oh, another P.S. as the subject for a future discussion — actually, one of my listed favorite scholars did write a novel based around (but not directly about) the ministry of Jesus in Galilee. That was “Shadow of the Galilean” by Prof. Theissen. Great book, sort of a foreshadowing of what THE CHOSEN seeks to do (and in a way much more historically reliable). I hope to talk more about how “Shadow” and THE CHOSEN relate — and how they are different.

PS — in cable/web TV land, don’t confuse THE CHOSEN with THE CHOSEN ONE. The “ONE” is interesting, but is not the real “one”.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 4:56 pm      

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