The director of the faith-based hit series The Chosen on Tuesday addressed a social media controversy about the project's new trailer, saying a key line was not taken from the Book of Mormon but instead was created by the series' scriptwriters.
The trailer for Season 3 launched last week and climbed to No. 1 on YouTube's trending chart on its first full day of release before tallying 1.7 million views over the next week.
In one of the trailer's most dramatic scenes, a Pharisee tells Jesus, "If You do not renounce your words, we will have no choice but to follow the law of Moses." Jesus then tells the Pharisee, "I am the law of Moses." Within days of the trailer's release, critics of the series on social media argued that the quote had been lifted from 3 Nephi 15:9 in the Book of Mormon. The Deseret News and Church Leaders covered the debate.
"Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life," 3 Nephi 15:9 reads.
On Tuesday, Dallas Jenkins – the director and creator of The Chosen – addressed the controversy in a livestream. Jenkins is evangelical.
"It's not a direct quote," Jenkins said. "... [The Book of Mormon] wasn't referring to the law of Moses in that quote, and the quote is, 'I am the law and the light.' And I have never read the Book of Mormon, to be honest with you. I've read some of it, when people will share it with me. And I read it when someone told me, 'Hey, that's from the Book of Mormon.'... And I went and looked it up. I'm like, 'No, it isn't.'
"It's in the show because I believe it's a really great line. And I believe it's also theologically plausible," Jenkins said before quoting Jesus' words from the New Testament. "'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.' 'I am the Word.' 'I am the light.' 'I am the light of the world.'… The point is God is over these things. Jesus is over these things. He is the things. He owns these things. They came from Him. And so Jesus makes many 'I am' statements.
"No, I didn't pull this quote from anywhere else," he said.
Episodes one and two of The Chosen season three debut in theaters on November 18.
Photo courtesy: ©The Chosen, used with permission.
Videos courtesy: ©The Chosen
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.