Jerry B. Jenkins: 'The Chosen' series not a 'substitute' for reading the Bible, going to church

Episodes of “The Chosen” have been watched over 150 million times and translated into over 50 languages.
Episodes of “The Chosen” have been watched over 150 million times and translated into over 50 languages. | The Chosen

Bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins has said that watching “The Chosen” series is not supposed to be a “substitute” for studying the Bible and going to church.

Earlier this year, the coauthor of the famous Left Behind series released the second book of his novelization of the popular Christian television show “The Chosen,” titled The Chosen: Come and See.

The book is a novelization of the second season of “The Chosen,” a series in which Jenkins’ son, Dallas Jenkins, serves as director and co-writer. Jenkins had previously novelized season one.

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In an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday, Jenkins explained that he hoped that viewers of the TV series would inspire people who are not religious to come to Christ.

“One of the things we really wanted is for people not to see this as a substitute for Scripture or for going to church and listening to sermons and studying,” said Jenkins.

“We really want it to drive them back to the Bible and back to church, and we're hearing from a lot of people who say that's happening for them.”

New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins.
New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins. | Pure Publicity

Jenkins told CP that he believes that people are receiving the series well because of “the authenticity of it,” adding that this authenticity was “really bringing the story to life for them again.”

In an interview with CP, Jenkins opened up about his novelization of “The Chosen” season two, why he agreed to write “The Chosen” novels and if these efforts go against the Bible’s warning about adding to Scripture. Below are excerpts from that conversation.

CP: Why did you decide to write this book series?

Jenkins: This being my son's creation, I had helped him get started in the movie business when he first got out of college. We had our own little production company and staff. But this is all his own.

I sort of feel like I am pressing my nose against the glass and asking if I could play, too. He's been gracious enough to let me write a novel for each season of "The Chosen." So, it’s been a great thrill to do that.

CP: Have you written novelized versions of a TV series in the past?

Jenkins: Not a TV series, but I did do a novelization of his very first movie, “Hometown Legend,” years ago. And then he and I did a novel together based on one of my short stories that he made into a movie with Stephen Baldwin.

So, I have done some of this kind of work before.

CP: What are some of the challenges of novelizing either a movie or a TV series, as opposed to just writing a novel largely based on one's own imagination?

Jenkins: Well, the real challenge is being true to what's on the screen. I think readers, especially if they've seen the production, they want the book to mirror it in some ways, but then also to bring added value. So, I am adding even more imaginative conversations and sometimes even characters, more backstory, more inner monologue, what the character is thinking, how they're reacting, that type of thing.

And so, it has to work as a book, but it can't do damage either to what's on the screen. And so, when I get to what's on the screen and try to mirror it almost exactly, but then to add quite a bit in between to make it stand alone as a book, too.

The book cover for the novelization of season two of 'The Chosen' series, titled The Chosen: Come and See, by Jerry B. Jenkins.
The book cover for the novelization of season two of "The Chosen" series, titled The Chosen: Come and See, by Jerry B. Jenkins. | BroadStreet® Publishing Group, LLC

CP: I assume that you are planning to write a third book in "The Chosen" series. What is the current status of that project?

Jenkins: I am right in the middle of that right now. I am working off the scripts at this point. I have only seen a few of the scenes that have been shot and they're uncorrected scenes without the color correction or sound correction, that type of thing. Usually, I watch every episode at least twenty times to do these books. But, they have been a lot of delays in production for season three, and we don't want to wait too long for the books.

So, I am building the novels based on the scripts.

CP: As you know, The Chosen: Come and See has been out since June. What sort of notable feedback, if any, have you gotten from readers?

Jenkins: I've been getting a lot of really good feedback. It’s been really gratifying.

When I did the first one, I was so married to the scripts and to what I saw on the screen that I didn't feel as free to add my own backstory and stuff. I did some, but not much, and even Dallas and his writers said, “You know, feel free to run with it," so that the novels could stand alone even if there wasn't a TV show. That really gave me greater leeway to employ.

I really got into telling a lot more backstory there, and readers really seem to love it. So that's the plan going forward.

CP: How would you say "The Chosen," both the book series and the TV series, in light of adding backstory and scenes, are compatible with the Book of Revelation's warning against adding to the account of Scripture?

Jenkins: Well, I don't think that warning is against adding to the account of Scripture. I think it is a warning against adding to or taking away from the Gospel message. We're lovers of Scripture; we love the Bible and, of course, the Gospel and Jesus, so we're really careful to make that crystal clear.

I think our readers and our viewers give us artistic license to imagine what might have led up to these events and when we get to the events that are in Scripture, we stay true to those. We really work hard on that.

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