The Gospel Comes to Streaming Television—without Demonizing Jews

Now preparing for its fourth season of a projected seven, the series The Chosen aims to portray the life of the founder of Christianity as told in the gospels. Faydra Shapiro admits that when she first became aware of the show, she assumed that it would at best be “cheesy” and at worst an all-too-typical “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.” Then the producers asked her to serve as a Jewish adviser for upcoming episodes, and she watched those already aired:

To my complete surprise, The Chosen presents the most intensely Jewish Jesus . . . we’ve ever had. Now look, don’t misunderstand me. As an educated Jew watching it, undoubtedly some of it strikes me as 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.

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.

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 have a radical impact on how Christians encounter their Jewish neighbors, friends, and co-workers. At a time of rapidly rising anti-Semitism in the West, this is no small thing.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Jewish-Christian relations, New Testament, Television


In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan