(Times Of Israel) Apparently it isn’t just judaized Christian” evangelical Zionists who are binge-watching “The Chosen” television drama — the show emphasizes Jesus’ “Jewishness” so much that even many Jews are now finding it “kosher” enough to watch it:
“I mentally cringed when I first heard about The Chosen. Another Christian evangelistic tool that ends up making the Jews out to be the bad guys, the dramatic foil for some new message, the ones responsible, the persecutors. Another Jewish-Christian relations disaster? No thanks. Plus it all sounded a little, well…cheesy…
…To my embarrassment, it wasn’t until The Chosen approached me to help on a small “Jewish advisory board” for Season 4 that I realized I probably should have some idea of what I had agreed to.
So there I was – a religious Jewish mother of six trying to prepare the house for Passover and binge-watch three seasons of The Chosen at the same time….To my complete surprise, the Chosen presents the most intensely Jewish Jesus and the Gospels we’ve ever had.
Now look, don’t misunderstand me. As an educated Jew watching it, undoubtedly some of it is a bit kitschy. Some of it is anachronistic. Some of it is just plain wrong. But all that pales in the face of its value for building understanding between Jews and Christians. The series takes a fact that by now all Christians know, and makes it impossible to look away, fleshing out the Jewishness of Jesus and his earliest followers into something an inescapable, determinative and profoundly positive foundation for the Christian faith.
Creating this small Jewish advisory board tells us a lot. Until now, all the advisors for The Chosen have been Christian, aside from one Messianic Jewish leader. Which makes sense. But recognizing that the narrative was entering more complex terrain in terms of Jewish-Christian relations, the team realized some more traditional Jewish input should be solicited. And that in itself is remarkable.
That a group of Christian professionals with a multi-season Christian mega-hit would seek us out for extended conversations about Jewish practice, Jewish sensitivities, Jewish texts and Jewish holidays in order to better present Jesus and his disciples is unprecedented, and reflects an extraordinary moment in healing the relationship between Jews and Christians.
But what about Jews? Should Jews even be watching The Chosen at all?
There is an unfortunate tendency for many Jews to think that the New Testament is kind of threatening, that it is foreign, that it has nothing to do with us. That it belongs to “them.” Much of this is no doubt aided by well-meaning Christians seeking to shove it down our throats.
I wish that Jews could understand that the New Testament is thoroughly Jewish – replete with Jewish categories and Jewish practices, Jewish controversies, Jewish scripture, and brimming with Jews – I think we could reclaim some of our own history. Because let’s face it, if we want to understand something about the Judaism of our ancestors in this specific period, the New Testament has some real value. And if Jews could feel more comfortable with the New Testament as comprising an important piece of Jewish cultural literature, we might be able to engage more deeply together as Jews and Christians.
The Chosen has the possibility of transforming how Jews think about Jesus. Not in a missionary kind of way. But in recognition that this first-century rabbi, his family, his students and his earliest followers were Jewish. That Jesus was “one of ours” is something that all Jews know, but never think through the implications: that at the heart of Christianity lies a profoundly Jewish center, one of Pesach and Hannukah, one of prayer and sacrifice, one of morality and ethics. And while we absolutely must remember the harm that the church has done to our people over the centuries, we must also come to realize that Christian anti-Judaism is not something essential to Christianity, but rather a terrible detour based on amnesia about its own Jewishness.
The Chosen will, I believe, alter how a whole generation of Christians envisions and connects to the Jewishness of Jesus. And as such, it has the potential to radically impact how Christians encounter their Jewish neighbors, friends and co-workers. At a time of rapidly rising antisemitism in the West, this is no small thing.”
“…they focused on conveying an emotional truth, not on being so true to the biblical text that the show becomes dour and boring.”
Jews are all about “conveying an emotional truth” — not objective reality — as the high Pope of the Holocaust™, Eli Wiesel explained,
“Certain things are true though they didn’t happen, while others are not, even if they did.”–—Eli Wiesel, “Legends of Our Time”
Jews can rest assured that the producers of “The Chosen” certainly are not trying to proselytize Jews to Christianity — but they most certainly are trying to proselytize Christians to Judaism — as part of a larger agenda to make Christianity virtually indistinguishable from Judaism.
In other words, from an evangelical perspective, “If you can’t convert them, join them.”
The producers have unabashedly admitted that one of their main goals with “The Chosen” is to diffuse “antisemitism” — which can only mean that they are willing to re-tell the Gospel accounts in such a way that makes even the Pharisees and Sadducees who conspired to murder Christ into sympathetic characters:
“But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”—Matthew 12:14
Apparently even the Catholics have received this same memo — as even the Pope has capitulated to Jewish demands that Christians see any criticism of the Pharisees as inherently “antisemitic.”
The producers “bent over backwards” to adopt the Jewish — and the Catholic post-Vatican II — revision that it was the “Romans” who are responsible for the death of Christ, not the Pharisees and Sadducees who demanded that the Romans execute Him:
“Both [producers] Thompson and Swanson emphasized that they wanted to make it absolutely clear that Roman governmental forces killed Jesus, not Jews. The writers room is extremely aware of rising antisemitism; it’s obvious that they are careful in their presentation of Jews, trying to avoid the criticism of The Chosen’s predecessors.”—The Forward, “Hit Christian TV show ‘The Chosen’ is all about Jesus. So why is it so Jewish?”
The “Christian” producers — for the purposes of “entertainment value” and political correctness — are all too willing to ignore where Peter explains how it was these Pharisees who handed Jesus Christ over to the Romans for execution:
13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you handed over and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14 But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you.—Acts 3:13-14
Scriptural reality aside, “The Chosen” seems to go along with the notion that historically Christianity took a wrong and dangerous turn when it forgot or ignored its “Jewish” roots — an “error” that the producers want to correct:
“Over time, of course, Christianity became entirely separate from Judaism, so much so that Christian persecution of Jews has become one of the major themes of Western history.”—The Forward, “Hit Christian TV show ‘The Chosen’ is all about Jesus. So why is it so Jewish?”
This “hot take” completely ignores the fact that the Pharisees were the original persecutors of Christians — as Acts 8 recounts the murder of Stephen — and after the death of Christ, the Jews goaded the Romans such as Nero to continue to persecute and murder Christians.
And let’s not forget how the Jews aided and abetted the Muslim invasion and conquering of Spain — and helped in the repression and persecution of Christians — while the Jews also helped the Persians invade and conquer Byzantine Israel in the 7th century.
But let’s not allow historical reality get in the way of the Jews portraying themselves as the eternal victims of Christian intolerance.
But as a Jewish reviewer at The Forward observed, the producers of “The Chosen” don’t appear to be particularly concerned…
“…with the fact that modern Israel is far removed from the Israel of Jesus’ time, nor that modern rabbinic Judaism bears little resemblance to the Temple Judaism of Jesus’ era. But this is in keeping with a trend within the Evangelical world: Zionism.”
The reason for this blatant disconnect with reality is that Judaism — according to Jews themselves — did not arise out of Judea but rather out of Babylon:
“Judaism was not evolved in Judah; it was in Babylon that Judaism first became that which it was and still is.”–“The Hebrew Peoples” written by Dr. H. Winckler, L.M. King, Dr. R. G. Brandis, and H. R. Hall. On pages 1781-4, Vol. 3, appearing in Helmsworth’s “History of the World”
“The Chosen” completely ignores this fact — and pretends as if Jesus practiced the Pharisaical “traditions of the elders” — that is, Babylonian Talmudic Judaism — tallits, Seders, and all — which the Jews define as,
“Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism became Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes in name . . . the spirit of the ancient Pharisees survives, unaltered . . . From Palestine to Babylonia; from Babylonia to North Africa, Italy, Spain, France and Germany; from these to Poland, Russia, and eastern Europe generally, ancient Pharisaism has wandered . . . demonstrates the enduring importance which attaches to Pharisaism as a religious movement . . .”–Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, “The Pharisees. The Sociological Background of Their Faith”, 1938
What the producers of “The Chosen” have done is exactly what today’s ersatz “Jews” have done — a sleight of hand that conflates today’s imposter mamzer “Jews” with the true Israelites of Judah and the larger “House of Israel” — as the writer of the Forward’s reviewer admits:
“[The modern state of] Israel is at the center of many Christians’ understanding of Judaism, holding such great theological weight that the distance between modern Jews and the ancient Israelites who were Jesus’ compatriots can collapse.”
Just as this crucial distinction collapses, so does the distinction between Christianity and anti-Christ Judaism — and today’s evangelical Zionist Christians seem more than willing to deny the very foundation of their faith “for fear of the Jews” — and instead embrace the myth of a “Jewish Jesus” who never was.