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The Chosen – season two, episode five
Simon the Zealot brings a knife to a demon fight, Jesus chats with his cousin John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene suffers a relapse, and more, in 'Spirit'.
Season 2, Episode 5 — ‘Spirit’
Synopsis. As the Feast of Tabernacles comes to an end, Yanni and Shmuel finally confirm that Jesus was the one who healed Jesse—but their efforts to report him to the Sanhedrin are stymied by Nicodemus. Jesus sits for a chat with his cousin John the Baptist, who says he is planning to confront Herod Antipas again. Simon the Zealot, curious to learn more about the man who healed his brother, watches the disciples from a distance, but he comes to their defense when a demoniac approaches the camp. The demoniac disarms Simon, but Jesus returns in the nick of time and casts the demon out. Atticus watches as Jesus talks to Simon the Zealot and bids farewell to John the Baptist. Mary Magdalene, triggered by the demoniac and the sight of two Roman soldiers, begins to revert to her old way of life by going to Jericho to gamble in a pub. Jesus tells Simon (not the Zealot) and Matthew to go and find her.
Gospels. This episode doesn’t dramatize any particular stories from the gospels, per se.
The closest it gets is the scene where the Pharisees interrogate Jesse—the former paralytic from the Pool of Bethesda—and he tells them he met Jesus a second time and finally learned the name of the man who healed him. Jesse also says Jesus told him to “go and sin no more, that the result of sin is far worse than being crippled” (John 5:14-15).
This episode is set the day after the week-long Feast of Tabernacles has come to an end, and Jesus was apparently in or near Jerusalem for the whole week.
But we only saw him in Jerusalem on the first day of the festival, when he healed the paralytic. What has happened since then? At the end of S2E4, Jesus said he healed the paralytic to “stir up the water”—so how did the rest of the festival go? Was there any “buzz” in the city about Jesus’ miracles, the way there was in Galilee, Samaria, and Syria between S1E6 and S2E3? Did Jesus use the healing as an opportunity to preach? Did he “stir up” any more “water” by confronting the religious leaders? Why are Yanni and Shmuel only learning now that it was Jesus who performed the healing?
In John’s gospel, when the religious leaders learn that it was Jesus who performed the healing, they start “persecuting” him, and he talks back to them at length (John 5:16-47). Similarly, in the one and only passage that explicitly says Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles, he sneaks into the city (John 7:10) and he does not begin to speak publicly in the temple courts until the festival is half-over (John 7:14-52)—and his chat with the crowd gets pretty confrontational.
But it doesn’t sound like anything like that has happened here.
This episode also features the only meeting between Jesus and John the Baptist that we are likely to see within this series.
In all four gospels, Jesus visits the place where John is preaching and baptizing people. In three of the gospels, Jesus himself is baptized by John (Mark 1:9-11, Matthew 3:13-17, Luke 3:21-22), while in the fourth, John proclaims Jesus “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29-36). In all four gospels, the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus in the form of a dove.
The Chosen has never shown any of that—not directly. Instead, Jesus mentions in S2E2 that Philip and Andrew were watching when John baptized him, and Andrew runs home to tell Simon after John calls Jesus “the Lamb of God” in S1E4—but in both cases, we only hear characters talk about what John did after the fact. (And, just to complicate things, in The Chosen’s timeline, the baptism of Jesus and the proclamation that he is “the Lamb of God” seem to have happened on two separate occasions, as I explored in my notes on S2E2.)
We have seen John the Baptist himself, when Nicodemus spoke to him in prison in S1E4 and S1E5. But this is the first time we’ve seen John speak to Jesus.
The conversation between Jesus and John alludes to several elements from the gospels:
John and Jesus are “cousins”. This reflects the fact that John’s mother Elizabeth was a “relative” or “kinswoman” of Jesus’ mother Mary’s (Luke 1:36).
John says he was “miraculously conceived by two old people” to pave the way for Jesus. The story of John’s conception and birth is told in Luke 1:5-25, 57-80.
John says he grew up hearing his father’s prophecy about him and Mary’s song about Jesus. His father’s prophecy is in Luke 1:67-79. Mary’s song, which she recited when she met John’s mother Elizabeth, is in Luke 1:46-55; it is known as the Magnificat and will be featured prominently in ‘The Messengers’.
Jesus says John still isn’t eating “meat”. But the biblical John did eat animals, of a sort, insofar as his diet consisted of “locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6, Matthew 3:4). Indeed, going back to the very beginning of this series, Simon was teasing his brother Andrew about that “bug-eating” friend of his.
John is preparing to condemn Herod for divorcing his first wife and marrying his brother’s ex-wife Herodias (Mark 6:17-18, Matthew 14:3-4, Luke 3:19-20). However, he plans to condemn Herod in Jerusalem, and not in one of the cities that the historical Herod actually ruled. This is not the first time John has condemned Herod to his face; in S1E4, Nicodemus said John had “entered the king’s court with a list of evils done by Herod Antipas and his family” at some point before the series began. Philip also alluded to some of the things that John had already condemned Herod’s family for in S2E2.
John says, “Herod is afraid of me. The people hold me to be a prophet.” Mark 6:19-20 says Herod did not kill John at first, even after imprisoning him, because he was afraid of John, while Matthew 14:5 says Herod was afraid of the people who believed John was a prophet. On a related note, the religious authorities also refused to be critical of John, even after he was dead, because the people believed John was a prophet (Mark 11:29-32, Matthew 21:24-26, Luke 20:3-6). And the people are not wrong to believe John is a prophet: John’s father Zechariah predicted, when John was an infant, that John would be a prophet (Luke 1:76), and Jesus himself confirmed that John was a prophet, maybe even the last of the prophets (Matthew 11:7-13; Luke 7:24-28, 16:16).
John says some people say he is “Elijah himself,” to which Jesus replies, “Maybe not the Elijah, but we both know about the Elijah-ness of your role.” The biblical John actually denied that he was Elijah, when some people asked him about this (John 1:21), but the angel who foretold his birth said John would come “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), and Jesus himself said John was “the Elijah to come” (Mark 9:11-13; Matthew 11:14, 17:10-13). (The coming of Elijah was foretold in Malachi 4:5-6.) John also dressed like Elijah, with a garment made of hair and a leather belt around his waist, so presumably he expected people to make the comparison (II Kings 1:8, Mark 1:6, Matthew 3:4).
Jesus says he heard about John’s “brood of vipers comment” (Matthew 3:7, Luke 3:7). See my notes on S1E6 for more about that. Jesus himself will go on to call the Pharisees and teachers of the law “broods of vipers” (Matthew 12:34, 23:33).
John says he heard about Jesus’ miracles but never got to see one, until he saw the exorcism in this episode. The biblical John, while he was languishing in prison, sent his own disciples to ask if Jesus really was the one that John had been waiting for, and Jesus replied by pointing to the miracles of his that John’s disciples had witnessed for themselves (Matthew 11:2-6, Luke 7:18-23).
More generally, the conversation between John and Jesus highlights the very different styles of the two men—John is radical while Jesus is moderate, John is spontaneous while Jesus is a “planner”, John speaks directly while Jesus speaks in parables, etc.—and while this isn’t a direct scriptural reference, per se, it does fit with a point that Jesus made about how John “came neither eating nor drinking”, while Jesus did both of those things (Matthew 11:18-19, Luke 7:33-35; cf Luke 5:33-35).
It’s also worth noting that this series shows the ministries of John and Jesus overlapping somewhat. The impression one gets from the Synoptic gospels is that the ministry of Jesus followed the ministry of John, that it did not begin until after John was in prison:
Mark describes Jesus’ baptism and temptation (Mark 1:9-13), and then the very next verse says, “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God” (Mark 1:14).
Matthew describes Jesus’ baptism and temptation (Matthew 3:13-4:11), and then the very next verse says, “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee” (Matthew 4:12).
Luke doesn’t even mention Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:21-22) or temptation (Luke 4:1-13) until after he mentions John’s imprisonment (Luke 3:19-20).
Only John’s gospel gives us a clear sense that Jesus and John had overlapping ministries. After Jesus performed his first miracle (as seen in S1E5) and spoke to Nicodemus (as seen in S1E7), people complained to John that Jesus was attracting more followers than John, and John replied, “He must become greater, I must become less” (John 3:22-30).
John’s gospel is also the only gospel that says Jesus was baptizing people at the same time that John was (John 3:22-23)—although another verse clarifies that “it was not Jesus who baptized but his disciples” (John 4:1-2). Either way, this series does not show Jesus or his disciples baptizing anybody, and I’m not sure that any film ever has.
Jesus tells John the Baptist he’s “working on something—a sermon, a big one.” We later see him practising one of the lines from that sermon, about salt losing its flavour.
Jesus is referring, of course, to the Sermon on the Mount, which takes up three chapters of Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 5-7) and will mark the climax of this season.
The line about salt losing its flavour does appear in that sermon, at Matthew 5:13 … and it also appears in the other two Synoptic gospels, at Mark 9:50 and Luke 14:34-35.
Many scholars have noted that the Sermon on the Mount, as it appears in Matthew 5-7, is less an account of a specific historical event than a literary device for collecting a bunch of Jesus’ teachings in one place. Each of the teachings would have required time for digestion, and it wouldn’t have worked so well if Jesus had just stood in front of a crowd and rattled them off, one after another, for a solid 20 or 30 minutes.
Also, the way the episode shows Jesus practicing the line about salt, as though he’s trying to find the right precise way to say it, is both implausible and unnecessary. Good speakers never use a good line only once, and with each repetition, there is bound to be a little variation. The fact that this particular teaching appears in three different forms, in three different contexts within the gospels, just underlines the point. There’s no one “perfect” version of this teaching.
John the Baptist says he doesn’t understand why Jesus keeps telling stories (i.e. parables) instead of getting to the point. Jesus replies, “I’m going to tell stories that make sense to some people, but not to others, and that’s just how it’s going to be.”
Jesus is basically making the point here that he makes in the gospels, when he says that the secrets of the Kingdom are being given to his followers, but to outsiders he speaks in parables so that they “may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!” (Mark 4:10-12, Matthew 13:10-17, Luke 8:9-10; Jesus is actually paraphrasing Isaiah 6:9-10 at this point).
Jesus says he doesn’t agree with John’s determination to condemn the marriage of Herod and his wife because “I’m here for bigger purposes than the breaking of rules.”
The phrasing here is curious, as it sounds almost like Jesus is putting the rules about sex and marriage on the same level as the oral traditions he has already flouted re: the carrying of mats on the Sabbath. But the biblical Jesus actually took a hard line against adultery, divorce, and remarriage; he even condemns them in the Sermon on the Mount, just a few verses after the line about salt that we see him rehearsing in this episode (Matthew 5:27-32; see also Mark 10:1-12, Matthew 19:1-12, Luke 16:18, I Corinthians 7:10-11).
In Jewish circles at the time, the school of Hillel argued that a man could divorce his wife for pretty much any reason—even for burning his supper!—while the school of Shammai taught that a man could divorce his wife only if she had been unfaithful to him. (See ‘Historical Quibbles’ below for more about Hillel and Shammai.) The more permissive view of Hillel ultimately prevailed in Judaism, with some modifications, while Jesus’ stance was much closer to the stricter view of Shammai, and some would argue it went even beyond that.
Jesus casts a demon out of someone—possibly for the first time since he met Mary Magdalene at the end of S1E1, though when he healed Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever in S1E8, it sounded like he may have been addressing a demon then, too.
Jesus performs many exorcisms in the Synoptic gospels—though not, interestingly, in the gospel of John. Several passages list exorcisms among the many healings that he performed (Mark 1:32-34, 39; 3:11-12, 22; Matthew 4:24; 8:16; Luke 4:41; 6:17-19; 7:21; 9:1-6; 13:32), and he also gave his disciples—both the Twelve and another group called the Seventy-Two—the power to cast out demons (Mark 3:14-15, 6:7-13; Matthew 10:1-8; Luke 10:17-20). The disciples also complained that someone outside their group was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and Jesus told them to let him do it (Mark 9:38-41, Luke 9:49-50).
In addition to those general references, there are stories about specific people who were exorcised:
A man in the synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:31-37)
At least one mute man—two in Matthew’s gospel—whose exorcisms prompt Jesus’ enemies to say that Jesus himself has a demon, to which Jesus ultimately replies that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 9:32-34; 12:22-32, 43-45; Luke 11:14-26; cf Mark 3:22-30).
A man—two men, in Matthew’s gospel—who was possessed by a “legion” of demons, and whose demons were ultimately sent into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:1-20, Matthew 8:28-34, Luke 8:26-39).
A Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter (Mark 7:24-30, Matthew 15:21-28).
A boy with an epileptic spirit (Mark 9:14-29, Matthew 17:14-21, Luke 9:37-43).
Mary Magdalene, who had seven demons (Luke 8:2).
A woman who had been crippled by a spirit (Luke 13:10-17).
The demoniac in this episode appears to be fictitious—he does not correspond easily to any of the specific demoniacs in the gospels—but he talks about cutting himself, like the person who was possessed by a “legion” of demons in Mark 5:5.
The demoniac in this episode knows that Mary Magdalene was once possessed by seven demons. That particular detail was not spelled out in S1E1.
Unlike the exorcism of Mary Magdalene, which was depicted as a compassionate embrace, the exorcism in this episode is more of an action sequence, with the demoniac lunging at Simon the Zealot and Jesus shouting “Out of him!” as he runs up to them.
The exorcisms in the gospels tend to be fairly instantaneous, but in the case of the epileptic boy, Jesus implies that some exorcisms may take more time; depending on which manuscript you read, Jesus says the kind of demon who afflicted the epileptic boy can come out only by “prayer” or by “prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).
Simon the Zealot says at one point that he won’t kill the demoniac because, if the demon leaves the demoniac’s body, it will “pass through waterless places” and find someone else to possess, so it’s safer to let the demon stay where it is.
The line about “waterless places” basically comes from Matthew 12:43—except in that passage, Jesus is talking about a demon that has left someone who is still living, and in the verses that follow, Jesus says the demon won’t find someone else to possess, and eventually it will return to the original body with other demons, and the original demoniac will be worse off than he or she was before (Matthew 12:43-35).
The demon calls himself “Belial, spawn of Oriax, fifth knight of the Legion.”
Belial began as a Hebrew term for wicked or worthless people that, at some point between the Old and New Testaments, evolved into a personification of the devil. That is how the word is used in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other intertestamental books, and it is also how that word is used when Paul asks, “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” (II Corinthians 6:15)
I have no idea where this Oriax business comes from.
Thomas is using a knife to cut food, but he holds it like a weapon when the demoniac approaches. This echoes how John and Simon Peter held their blades when they saw strangers approaching in S1E6 and S2E2.
Meanwhile, Jesus looks at the dagger that Simon the Zealot got from his fellow militants, and he throws it into the river, telling Simon, “I have a better sword, you’ll see.”
It is not clear what Jesus is referring to here. The biblical Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34-36; cf Luke 12:51-53), which would fit with his statement earlier in this scene that he intends to cause more “trouble”. Other passages in the New Testament use “sword” as a metaphor for the word of God, or the word of Jesus (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16, 2:12-16).
Old Testament. John the Baptist says the Law of Moses forbids a man from taking his brother’s wife. The particular rule that John quotes (which ends with the words “They shall be childless”) is from Leviticus 20:21, though a very similar rule appears in Leviticus 18:16.
Mary Magdalene recites Psalm 139:8, the verse that Philip gave Matthew to study in S2E3 (“If I ascend to heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there”). It would appear that Matthew, who is helping Mary Magdalene teach Ramah how to read, has shared this verse with Mary Magdalene, as well.
Ramah, for her part, uses Psalm 7:1-2 as part of her reading and writing exercises.
Jesus says it’s okay that he’s only starting his ministry now, at the age of 30, because David didn’t become king until he was 30. John the Baptist replies that David ruled for 40 years, killed a bunch of people, made horrible mistakes, and died in bed with a teenager he was not married to. “Maybe not the best analogy,” Jesus replies.
David’s age and the length of his reign are given in II Samuel 5:4; the length of his reign is also mentioned in I Kings 2:11 and I Chronicles 29:27. The story of the “teenager” who slept next to David to keep him warm in his old age is told in I Kings 1:1-4 (cf I Kings 1:15, 2:13-25), where the girl is described as “a young virgin”.
Jesus was “about thirty” at the start of his ministry, according to Luke 3:23.
Themes. When we first met John the Baptist in Season 1, he was depicted as something of a social-justice radical, complaining about the value of Nicodemus’s clothes, etc. But here, he seems a little more swept up in the sensationalism or theatricality of his radicalism, from the way he basically ambushes Jesus and the disciples to the way he says he’s going to condemn Herod because “my followers are going to love it.”
That sense of being swept up in the feeling of radicalism is also reflected in the way John shouts “Yeah!” after Jesus casts the demon out of the demoniac. When John brushes off the possibility of getting arrested again by saying, “I get arrested all the time, it’s what radicals do,” he seems almost more concerned with the fact that getting imprisoned is part of his “brand” than with any cause that might be served by his imprisonment.
Jesus does not disagree with the substance of anything John says or does, per se, but he does remind John to be sure that he’s “listening to God’s voice” when he does it.
John the Baptist says “soon” is “such a strange word”. He’s harking back to something that Jesus said to Simon in S2E2. One wonders if this was a topic that Jesus and John the Baptist talked about when they were growing up.
Jesus tells Simon and Matthew to go find Mary Magdalene. This is part of a recurring pattern throughout this season, as Jesus puts the two former nemeses together (Matthew used to be Simon’s tax collector), presumably to help them reconcile.
Simon the Zealot confronts the demoniac with a dagger in his hand, but the demoniac overpowers him. This is part of Simon the Zealot’s introduction to the fact that the enemy he’s facing is ultimately spiritual rather than physical (cf Ephesians 6:12).
Historical quibbles. Jesus says Simon the Zealot was living “in the catacombs” when he trained to be a political revolutionary.
The word “catacombs” was first used to refer to a network of underground tombs outside Rome where the apostles Peter and Paul were believed to be buried. The word has often been associated with ancient Christianity as a result, but there were Jewish catacombs too—most if not all of which came into being some time after this episode takes place.
One key difference between Christian and Jewish catacombs is that Christianity was a persecuted religion, so Christians often conducted secret worship services in their catacombs, whereas Jewish catacombs tended to be just for burial because Judaism was an approved religion and could be celebrated openly in the Roman Empire.
Yanni plans to exploit a split between the rabbinic schools of Hillel and Shammai, to get his case against Jesus heard by the Sanhedrin.
Hillel and Shammai were two Jewish leaders who played a big role in the development of the Jewish oral tradition. Hillel was about 60 years older and died in AD 10—about sixteen years before this series takes place—while Shammai lived until AD 30.
As Yanni notes in this episode, Shammai was the leader of the Sanhedrin when this episode takes place, and his school continued to dominate the Sanhedrin until sometime after AD 70, when the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple forced a lot of changes on the Jewish faith. Modern Judaism is much more influenced by Hillel’s school of thought than Shammai’s.
Yanni says Shammai is in a fight with Hillel’s son Shimon.
Little is known about Hillel’s son, but his grandson Gamaliel is quite well-known. Gamaliel became president of the Sanhedrin after Shammai died, and he even appears in the book of Acts, which says he was a teacher of Paul’s (Acts 22:3) and that he encouraged the Sanhedrin to be lenient with the early Christians (Acts 5:34-40). If, at the time this episode takes place, Gamaliel is only four years away from becoming president of the Sanhedrin, he should arguably be active in Sanhedrin politics right now—in which case there might be an opportunity for this series to portray a Jewish religious leader who is neither an enemy of Jesus nor a potential follower of his like Nicodemus. (I have written about portrayals of Gamaliel in film before.)
Hillel was also the man who coined the expression, “If not now, when?” which is quoted by Jesus and Mary in S1E5: in that episode, Jesus says it as a boy in Jerusalem in AD 8, and Mary says it at the wedding in Cana in AD 26.
Shmuel says this is a census year, and Yanni says the numbers aren’t in yet.
Censuses could be very controversial—just consider God’s reaction when King David conducted one (II Samuel 24, I Chronicles 21), or the rebellion led by Judas the Galilean when the Romans conducted one (Acts 5:37)—so it’s interesting that no one has said anything in this series before about a census taking place right now.
John the Baptist mentions that Herod Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis before marrying his brother’s ex-wife Herodias.
The gospels don’t mention that Herod Antipas had a wife before Herodias. We know about her primarily through the Jewish historian Josephus, who also tells us that Phasaelis was the daughter of Aretas, the king of the Nabateans, an Arab kingdom in what is now Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Sinai peninsula. Josephus says Aretas eventually went to war against Herod because of the divorce, and Herod lost the war, which the Jews of that time believed was God’s judgment against Herod for killing John the Baptist.
Incidentally, there is a film that is very loosely based on the story of Herod’s first wife, called The Big Fisherman (dir. Frank Borzage, 1959). The title refers to Simon Peter, who is played in that film by Howard Keel, an actor best-known for musicals like Calamity Jane, Kiss Me Kate, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. (No, The Big Fisherman is not a musical.)
Also, Herod’s original father-in-law Aretas is mentioned in the New Testament: one of Aretas’s governors tried to capture Paul in Damascus (II Corinthians 11:32-33) after Paul visited Arabia (Galatians 1:17), and that is partly why Paul had to escape the city through a basket hung out of a window in the city wall (cf Acts 9:23-25).
As Mary Magdalene gathers persimmons, she recites the Birkat Ha’Ilanot: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the universe, whose world lacks nothing, and who made wondrous creatures and good trees through which he brings pleasure to the children of Adam.”
Setting aside the question of whether this prayer actually goes back to the first century, there’s one slight problem with her reciting it at this point in time: this prayer is meant to be recited in the spring, usually in the month of Nissan (March or April in our calendar), when trees blossom for the first time. But this episode takes place in the fall, after the Feast of Tabernacles, which also happens to be when persimmons ripen. Perhaps we can chalk this up to Mary Magdalene’s unfamiliarity with Jewish customs, like when she accidentally mixed elements of Passover with her Shabbat dinner in S1E2.
Geography. Jesus and the disciples meet John the Baptist by the Jordan River, somewhere past Jericho. Jericho is about a seven-hour walk from Jerusalem, and it’s a few hours more to Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan, the traditional site of John’s preaching (John 1:28).
Notably, this episode appears to take place on a Saturday (see ‘Timeline’ below), but the Jordan River is about 50km from Jerusalem and Jews aren’t supposed to walk more than about 1km on the Sabbath (cf Acts 1:12). If Jesus and the disciples were in Jerusalem for the end of the festival, which was the day before this episode takes place, then it would appear they’ve done a lot more walking on the Sabbath than they are supposed to.
By some strange coincidence, someone that Mary Magdalene once owed money to at the pub in Capernaum happens to be running a pub in nearby Jericho now—so when she “relapses”, she goes to Jericho and gets access to his current pub by telling the bouncer she knows the owner from his pub in Capernaum.
Jericho, like Jerusalem, is a few days’ walk south of Capernaum, and Mary said in S1E4 that she had never been to Jerusalem before, so it would be odd—not impossible, but odd—if she had been to Jericho before but not to the relatively nearby Jerusalem.
(This is the first inkling of any sort we’ve had that Mary Magdalene might be familiar with the world outside of Galilee. Her name, “Magdalene”, is generally taken to mean that she came from the town of Magdala, which is on the coast of the Sea of Galilee; and throughout Season 1, she was a resident of Capernaum, which is also on the coast of that sea.)
Miracles. Jesus performs an exorcism—his second so far in this series, following the exorcism of Mary Magdalene at the end of S1E1.
Humanization. Jesus’ conversation with John the Baptist fairly oozes with the sort of casual familiarity that one finds between people who grew up together. “I was rude to you before,” says John, “but it’s only because we go back so far and I can tease a bit.”
Jesus says he is “always ready to do my Father’s will, but that doesn’t make it easy.”
Jesus is also seen practising one of the lines from his upcoming Sermon on the Mount. This sequence apparently caused a huge stir online, as many people thought that Jesus, being God in the flesh, wouldn’t need to figure out the perfect way to express himself.
I am not convinced by that argument, myself. It seems to me that wordsmithing is its own kind of craftsmanship, not unlike carpentry or stonemasonry, so unless we’re going to say that Jesus never had to put any effort into his physical labour as a tekton, I don’t see why he wouldn’t have had to put any effort into his mental labour, as it were.
(Philippians 2:5-8 says Jesus “emptied himself” or “made himself nothing” by becoming human. Since we know that Jesus prayed a lot, was capable of being overwhelmed by emotion, and could not always predict the future, I see no reason to assume that his brain worked differently from the rest of ours when it came to preparing speeches.)
Timeline. This episode takes place the day after the end of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The feast lasts seven days, and the previous episode established that this year’s feast began on a Saturday, i.e. the weekly day of rest. That means this episode also takes place on the Sabbath, but there is zero discussion of this fact within the episode.
Mary Magdalene is picking persimmons at the beginning of the episode. Persimmons ripen in the autumn, as early as mid-September, which fits with the fact that this episode takes place right after the Feast of the Tabernacles, which takes place in late September and/or October.
Language issues. The bouncer at the bar tells Mary Magdalene, “You obviously know which button to push with Jethro.” Push-buttons were invented in the late 1800s, and their widespread adoption was still being treated as a novelty in the 1950s.
Shmuel says he needs to update a report that he submitted to the Sanhedrin. The bureaucrat he speaks to says things like, “I processed the paperwork,” “That inquiry was closed,” and, “It never advanced beyond opening arguments.”
Yanni calls Shmuel a “rube”. The English word, which signifies a country bumpkin or unsophisticated person, arose in the late 19th century and is derived from Reuben—which is, of course, a biblical name (for the oldest of Jacob’s twelve sons, à la Genesis 29:32). Apparently it became a common name in rural English-speaking communities.
Miscellaneous. Simon Peter introduces Simon the Zealot to the other disciples and says there is only one other woman with them besides Ramah—at which point he notices that Mary Magdalene is missing from the group. But where is Jesus’ mother?
Jesus’ mother Mary joined the disciples just two episodes ago, in S2E3, and she was still with them when the Feast of Tabernacles began one week ago, in S2E4. What’s more, she will be with them again mere days after this episode, in S2E6. It was also implied that she was familiar with John the Baptist and his followers, such as Philip—so it stands to reason that she might have wanted to see John himself again, too.
So where did she disappear to while John was visiting, and why?
One of the prayers that Simon the Zealot recites while he’s stalking the disciples—the one that begins, “My God, the soul you put into me is pure, you created it, you formed it, you breathed it into me…”—is known as the Elohai Neshama.
The Chosen interviews:
Season 1: Dallas Jenkins, co-writer/director (Dec 2019)
Season 2: Dallas Jenkins, co-writer/director (May 2021) | Derral Eves, producer, on Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers (Nov 2021) | Dallas Jenkins on the ‘The Chosen Is Not Good’ marketing campaign (Apr 2022)
The Chosen recaps:
The episode premiered in a livestream on May 23, 2021, but the livestream is no longer on YouTube. A clip of Jesus casting out the demons is now online, however:
The ‘Come and See’ show that followed the premiere is also online; it includes an interview with David Amito, the actor who plays John the Baptist:
Director Dallas Jenkins, co-writer Ryan Swanson, and actress Liz Tabish discussed Mary Magdalene’s “relapse” (this includes discussion of scenes in S2E6):
Jenkins also posted a “reaction video” responding to comments about the episode:
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