5 min read

On our podcast, Dr. Jeff Kloha, chief curatorial officer, interviewed Jacob Schwarz, filmmaker and VP of Creative for Mysterybox Productions, to discuss Museum of the Bible’s New Testament Experience, formerly the New Testament Theater.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and space. To get the full interview, listen using the video player above or listen to the episode on our podcast, Today at Museum of the Bible, or on our YouTube channel.

Jeff: I'm here today with Jacob Schwarz because we just unveiled the new New Testament Experience at Museum of the Bible. Jacob and his team are responsible for the film that's a part of that project. Welcome, Jacob.

You've done The Chosen and now this New Testament Experience, which is focused on the road to Emmaus and uses that as a launching pad to get to other places in the Bible. Any reflections on portraying Jesus on film? What do you keep in mind as you do that?

Jacob: I've done a lot of the auxiliary content for [The Chosen]. I've directed some of the documentaries they've come out with. One of the things I've really appreciated about The Chosen's approach, especially Dallas Jenkins’s approach to the way he's interpreted Jesus, was that he wanted to come across with an authentic Jesus. I think Jonathan Roumie does a fantastic job at that.

And so, that was a high order when we were commissioned by the museum to come and do a project of similar caliber, trying to cast a Jesus who is authentic and that somebody could relate to. I think across denominations, different people have different interpretations of what Jesus and Christ is to them. Some put him on a pedestal, some put him down to earth with us. I think the thing that I always try to go after is authenticity.

Jeff: As a director, a scriptwriter, how do you move from a literary text to create something visual and fill in all the blanks, create that environment that corresponds to the text?

Jacob: The road to Emmaus is a short story. Another thing David Thorpe and I paid attention to—David was one of my co-writers and the producer on the project—one of the things we really wanted to focus on was trying to move away from the fantastical.

So we just said, let's make this as authentic as possible because that's how we're going to reach the hearts of people easier. That's how we started the basis of the script, and I think what I've learned from The Chosen is we have to look at the core messaging. There's obviously a lot of different interpretations of the Bible, but then there's also a lot of interpretations of how you could tell a story, right? I think the way we all have to look at it is what's the core message and what's the core thing that's trying to be told there. What David and I latched on to is this idea of after Jesus was resurrected, he met with Mary and then met with these two gentlemen on their path, described as disciples, but they've lost hope. So something happened to these disciples and then Jesus felt it was so important to walk with them in their steps and help teach them all of the prophecies of the Old Testament led up to what he had done three days prior on the cross. So we thought, let's put ourselves in the shoes of Cleopas, this individual who is struggling with that faith.

This excerpt is from an episode of Today at Museum of the Bible. Listen to the whole interview on SpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple PodcastsiHeart RadioYouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Come see the New Testament Experience at Museum of the Bible (free with admission)! Learn more here.

Published April 25, 2024
5 min read