Updated: Jun 19
Update: Check here for my recap and Review of His Only Son
Angel Studios, the company that helped produce and distribute The Chosen, recently announced that they'll be distributing a new Bible film that adapts Genesis 22, the story in which God calls Abraham to sacrifice his only legitimate son, Isaac. The film will be Angel's first theatrical release, premiering on March 31, 2023, just in time for Easter.
How did Angel produce His Only Son so quickly?
If you're familiar with some of Angel's other projects like The Shift or David, you probably know that they've been in production for quite some time and they've been raising funds throughout production. That's because Angel has been helping to create those projects from the ground up. By contrast, His Only Son appears to have been created independently, without the support of Angel Studios. Angel is only helping to raise funds to market and distribute the film. From what I can tell, none of the creators of The Chosen contributed to the film, although the project page for His Only Son suggests that The Chosen and The Passion of the Christ did serve as inspirations.
Is His Only Son created by a Christian?
On the project page on Angel's website, the bio for David Helling, the director of His Only Son, reads as follows:
David Helling grew up in Southern Louisiana but spent the bulk of his teens in Texas. Upon graduating high school, David shipped to California for a five-year-stint in the United States Marine Corps– a commitment which eventually took him to the sands of Al-Anbar Province in Iraq. There in the desert, near the edge of ancient Babylon, in a combat zone, another battle was raging in David himself– a war within that eventually drove to the Bible. The result was a transformed heart, sincere faith and a burning desire to tell others of those Biblical accounts. Since then, David has made it his life’s mission to bring Scripture’s Truth from the page to the Screen. This endeavor has resulted in many short films and scripts, garnering numerous awards, accolades and international attention– all which now culminate in his debut feature film, His Only Son.
Is His Only Son any good? Is it biblical?
We'll have to wait and see! I haven't had a chance to watch the film, but I most likely will at some point after it is released and will post a review. The project page on Angel Studios says that the film aims to be biblically accurate. I only hope that it avoids the danger of painting Abraham in an overly positive light, obscuring all the flaws that the Bible ascribes to him. Angel Studios appears to be pretty confident in the film, since they've decided to let it supplant other projects like The Shift as their first theatrical release. Like I said above, it doesn't sound like the creators of The Chosen were directly involved and I'm personally not familiar with the work of David Helling. I hope the project proves successful though and this continues to build momentum for future Bible adaptations.
What passage in Scripture is His Only Son based on?
His Only Son appears to be based primarily on Genesis 22, which describes how God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac:
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba. (Genesis 22:1-19, ESV)
Scenes in the trailer also suggest that the film will at least briefly touch on the miraculous conception and birth of Isaac, as it's described in Genesis 21:
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:1-7)
In addition to these specific stories, the trailer also mentions Abimelech, a local king that Abraham interacts with in Genesis 20. His soldiers appear to serve as a source of external conflict, complementing the internal conflict that Abraham faces as he prepares to sacrifice his son.
Didn't Abraham have more than one son?
Technically, yes. Before Sarah had Isaac, Abraham had a son, Ishmael, with his slave, Hagar, both of whom were eventually abandoned/exiled (Genesis 21:8-21). He also went on to have other children with his second wife, Keturah, and his concubines. The Bible says that Abraham provided for all of these children, but he designated Isaac as his sole legal heir (Genesis 25:1-6). More importantly, Isaac was heir of God's promises and purposes for Abraham (Genesis 26:1-5).
Of course, while the phrase "only son" is used to refer to Isaac in Genesis, for Christians, the phrase also has obvious Christ overtones, since Jesus is referred to as "his only son" with respect to God (John 3:16). Coming from a Christian filmmaker, it seems like the title is primarily intended to play up the parallel between Abraham sacrificing Isaac and God sacrificing Jesus.
A New Resource for Studying The Chosen
If you're like me, watching The Chosen is about more than entertainment. Bible movies & shows like The Chosen provide us with fresh eyes to see the significance of the Bible and the beauty of the Gospel. That's why I'm excited to share with you a new resource that I've created to help you study biblical adaptations & reflect on how they apply to everyday life. Come and See is a devotional journal designed specifically for studying Bible movies and shows like The Chosen. It includes sections for you to take notes on each episode's plot, your favorite quotes, personal connections, questions, and, of course, Scripture references. Whether you're studying on your own or with your small group or ministry, Come and See is a perfect resource to help you dig deeper into The Chosen.
FYI: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here for my affiliation policy.
If you liked this post, you might want to check out some of my other posts on The Chosen and Bible adaptation. I have Bible studies/discussion guides for each episode of The Chosen Seasons 1-3, blogs exploring how The Chosen adapts key biblical figures, and articles exploring the controversial nature of adaptation. I hope you enjoy them!
Artist Interviews (The Bible Artist Podcast)
The Chosen Season 4
The Chosen Season 3
Adapting Biblical Characters Series
Thomas & Ramah in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Yussif, Jairus, & Shmuel in The Chosen ***Season 3***
Quintus, Gaius, Atticus, and the Romans in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Little James in The Chosen & Scripture ***Season 3***
Pontius Pilate & his Wife in The Chosen ***Season 3***
Judas in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Matthew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Simon and Andrew in The Chosen ***Season 3 Update***
Exploring The Chosen with Youth or Small Group [Discussion Guides]
How to Discuss The Chosen - and Why
Episode 1 Guide: Homecoming
Episode 2 Guide: Two by Two
Episode 3 Guide: Physician, Heal Thyself
Episode 4 Guide: Clean Part 1
Episode 5 Guide: Clean Part 2
Episode 6 Guide: Intensity in Tent City
Episode 7 Guide: Ears to Hear
Episode 8 Guide: The Feeding of the 5,000
Season 2 Reflection P1: What is The Chosen Season 2 about?
Season 2 Reflection P2: What was The Chosen Season 2 about? (Plots & Theme)
Episode 1 Guide: The Beloved Disciple
Episode 2 Guide: Philip, Nathanael, & Matthew
Episode 3 Guide: Life Among the Disciples of Jesus
Episode 4 Guide: Simon the Zealot & the Man at the Bethesda Pool
Episode 5 Guide: Mary's Demons & the Destiny of John the Baptist
Episode 6 Guide: Mercy and Not Sacrifice
Episode 7 Guide: Quintus Returns
Episode 8 Guide: Judas, Matthew, & the Sermon on the Mount
Episode 1 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Lilith, and the Redeemer
Episode 2 Guide: Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Shabbat
Episode 3 Guide: Depicting Jesus in Art, Film, and TV
Episode 4 Guide: When Jesus Met Simon (Peter)
Episode 5 Guide: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Episode 6 Guide: Jesus, Shmuel, & the Pharisees
Episode 7 Guide: Did Nicodemus Follow Jesus?
Episode 8 Guide: The Woman at the Well, Eden, & Zohara
The Chosen Controversies Series
Themes & Theology of The Chosen [Exclusive for BMC Members]
Episode 1: What do we do when we are scared?
Episode 2: What is Shabbat for?
Episode 3: Who is Jesus?
Episode 4: What kind of man are you?
Beyond The Chosen
The Chosen: 9 Good Friday & Easter Episodes ***Season 3 Update***
Other Bible Adaptations
Recap & Review: His Only Son