Updated: Nov 6
A Teaser Trailer for The Chosen Season 4 was released this weekend, in conjunction with Chosen Con. We now know that all of The Chosen Season 4 will be released in theaters in February, before it is released online in the following weeks. But we didn't just get a date for the new season - we got several shots that hint at what's ahead.
Earlier this summer, I shared some of my initial thoughts on what we can expect from the coming season. Now that we have a public trailer to engage, we've got a little more substantial content to discuss.
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Biblical Events in The Chosen Season 4
The teaser confirms that we'll be seeing several biblical events this season:
The Death of John the Baptist: I made a pretty confident John the Baptist would die in The Chosen Season 3, but my confidence was misplaced. Be that as it may, The Chosen Season 4 teaser leaves no room for doubt: John the Baptist will be executed by Herod Antipas in this season. The trailer gives us several shots of John getting dragged toward his execution; we see Joanna, John's secret supporter in the court of Herod, grieve over his death; and we also get several shots of a young woman dancing. That woman is Salome, the daughter of Herodias, who was the wife of Herod's brother, until she divorced him and unlawfully married Herod. According to the Gospels (e.g. Matthew 14:1-12), Herodias wanted Herod to execute John the Baptist because of he publically denounced their marriage. Herod was initially reluctant to do so because of John's status as a prophet, and so Herodias had Salome dance for Herod and his friends so that he would grant her a boon. When Herod offered Salome anything, up to half of his kingdom, Herodias instructed her daughter to ask for John's head on a platter.
The Raising of Lazarus: This is the other major event that gets clearly telegraphed by the teaser. First, we see Mary Magdalene looking into an empty tomb (a foreshadowing of how she will find Jesus' tomb empty). The owner of the tomb is clarified in the next scene - when we see Jesus standing outside of an opened tomb, crying out, while Mary and Martha of Bethany stand nearby in black clothes, mourning for their dead brother, Lazarus, just before Jesus summons him from the grave (John 11). At one point, I think we also see Lazarus (post-resurrection) looking at the clothes that were used to bind him.
The Fall of Judas: This shot is quick and easy to miss, but the trailer clearly shows Judas taking money out of the disciples' treasury bag. This suggests that he'll be beginning his slide into corruption that ultimately leads him to sell out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Although the Bible doesn't pinpoint when Judas begins stealing, it's first mentioned in the context of a scene where Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus' feet, following the resurrection of her brother (John 12:6).
Jesus Predicts his Death Christians take for granted that Jesus was crucified. It's easy for us to forget that his disciples didn't know that he intended to die until late in his ministry and still struggled to accept/understand what Jesus meant. During the teaser, Jesus alludes to how "it's time" and he says "The Son of Man must suffer many things" (Mark 8:31). In response, we hear a disciple question how this is possible since Jesus is the Son of God.
Themes & Tone of The Chosen Season 4
In addition to hinting at specific events, the teaser also gives us insight into the tone of the upcoming season and some of the major themes that will be addressed:
Death & Resurrection: As I've noted above, the teaser draws attention to two major deaths: the death of John the Baptist and the death (albeit temporary) of Lazarus. Both of these events function as an anticipation of Jesus' own death, which Jesus also alludes to in his prediction that the Son of Man must suffer. But the story of Lazarus' death (like Jesus') is ultimately not a story of death but rather of resurrection. Indeed, the only shots we get involving Lazarus' death are during or after his resurrection. As I noted already, the scene involving Mary Magdalene is intentionally framed to foreshadow the resurrection of Jesus. Moreover, although in the trailer we only hear Jesus predict his suffering, biblically we know that his predictions of suffering were paired with predictions that he would rise after three days. Oh, and the official poster for Season 4 (see the top of the page) is titled "Rise Up" - an oblique reference to resurrection.
Grief & Celebration: As one would expect given the emphasis on death, the teaser also emphasizes grief and loss. We get several shots of characters in various stages of grief - primarily mourning but also anger (i.e. Big James). But in stark contrast to these moments of sadness, we also see several moments of celebration: most notably, the festivities at Herod's court (featuring a fire blower and Salome's dancing) and a scene of the disciples having a jam session. The positive aspect of celebration will most likely correspond to the theme of resurrection - the disciples will celebrate in the wake of Jesus' miraculous triumph over death. On the other hand, the decadent celebration in Herod's court will most likely serve to contrast Herod's kingdom with Jesus' kingdom. I'm thinking particularly of Luke's version of the Beatitudes: "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh...Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep." (Luke 6:21b, 25b). Those who serve in Jesus' kingdom often suffer and experience all kinds of grief in this world, as they await the joyful hope of resurrection, while hose who serve in the oppressive kingdoms of this world experience momentary happiness because of their power and wealth - but will ultimately grieve when these things are stripped away.
The Distance between Jesus & his Disciples: Dallas has hinted at this already, but you can see it clearly in the teaser. Part of what makes Jesus' grief so heavy is the fact that his disciples aren't on the same page. They get that he is the Messiah, but they don't yet understand what his Messianic mission is. Even when they do, they are resistant to it, because it doesn't fit into their existing paradigm.
Choosing Sides: I'm less confident about this thought, but I think it's notable that we have attention draw to Joanna and Jairus - two "hidden disciples" who are in institutions of power (Herod's Court and the Pharisees, respectively) but have to keep their support for Jesus hidden, because their peers are opposed to Jesus. We don't get much of Gaius, who is sympathetic to the Jesus movement, even if he isn't a believer yet, but we do see several shots that hint at increasing Roman opposition, which will make it hard for him to act in accordance with what he clearly knows is right. Based on this data, I'm expecting to see several minor characters struggling over whether they should remain loyal to Jesus as opposition to him grows. Perhaps Judas' theft will tie into this - the show has hinted that his fall will not be due to pure greed but will likely be related to his relatioship with the shady businessman and/or his sister.
Darkness into Light: Season 3 began on a pretty positive note (people are responding to Jesus' teaching; the disciples are entrusted with power and responsibility; families are reunited/expanding). As the season progressed, however, things got darker - I'm thinking particularly of Eden's miscarriage, but also of Quintus' growing opposition to the Tent City and Shmuel's minor victories in his campaign against Jesus). Based on this trailer, I'm expecting Season 4 to have the opposite shape. I don't think we'd be getting this much footage involving the death of John the Baptist and the Lazarus story if those stories weren't happening within the first half of the season (for reference, look back at the Season 3 trailers and notice how much of the footage comes from Episodes 1-3). If I'm right, that means we'll be getting some pretty heavy moments in the first few episodes. But the resurrection of Lazarus plays an important role in Jesus' ministry. The Gospel of John suggests that the news of what Jesus did drew a lot of people to his cause - so many that the religious leaders felt like they had to kill Jesus in order to keep his popularity contained (John 11:45-57). I'm predicting that we'll see an upswell in support for Jesus toward the end of the season, preparing the way for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem either at the end of Season 4 or the beginning of Season 5. The disciples will misunderstand this momentum - perhaps convincing themselves that the "death" Jesus predicted is already over and God is now causing him to "rise up" (in a metaphorical sense) and take his place as Messiah.
Did I miss anything significant in the trailer? Or do you agree/disagree with my analysis? Please feel free to leave your thoughts below!
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]
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
How to Discuss The Chosen - and Why
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?
Episode 7 P1: What does your heart tell you?
Episode 7 P2: What's wrong with reason?
Episode 8 P1: What is this God of yours called?
Beyond The Chosen
The Chosen: 9 Good Friday & Easter Episodes ***Season 3 Update***
Other Bible Adaptations
Recap & Review: His Only Son