Joanna & Chuza in ‘The Chosen’: A Bad Marriage in the Bible?

Joanna & Chuza in ‘The Chosen’: A Bad Marriage in the Bible? June 10, 2024

If you follow Dallas Jenkins’s film series, The Chosen, you will notice Joanna, a wealthy and prominent woman, is a follower of John the Baptist and Jesus (played by Amy Bailey). Now in season four it clear that she has a rocky marriage with her husband, Chuza (played by Nick Chinlund). In the first episode, we find him with another woman at Herod’s banquet, an evening that famously results in John the Baptist’s beheading.

What does the Bible say about this couple? Are they unequally yoked together in Scripture?

Joanna and Chuza according to Scripture

The Gospels rarely mention Joanna and Chuza (both are Hebrew or Aramaic names). In fact, they are only mentioned together in the Gospel of Luke 8:2–3. Here we learn that Joanna, along with Mary Magdalene, Susanna, and a number of other women, served and supported Jesus’s ministry. Presumably, she was healed of some unknown infirmity or demon-possession. Her husband’s name is Chuza, who is a manager or steward (ἐπίτροπος/ epitropos) of Herod’s estate.

Joanna, not Chuza, appears once again in Luke 24:10 as one of the women who witnessed the angelic visitors who declared that Jesus rose from the dead.

Not much can be determined about Chuza. His one mention in Scripture might suggest that the couple became outstanding followers of Christ based on Luke’s sources. Then again, Chuza might be mentioned simply because of his well-recognized role as Herod’s steward even though he remained a non-believer. His mention, then, would be a way of emphasizing Joanna’s wealth and prominence.

The late Harvard professor, François Bovon, considers it a radical decision for Joanna “to leave her husband and the court and to follow Jesus” (A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 1:1–9:50, Hermenia; Fortress, 2002: 301).

But there is an interesting wrinkle related to this couple according to Scripture…

Is Joanna Junia the Apostle in Romans 16:7?

Joanna or Julia?
An ancient elite woman of Rome, like Junia? “Julia Agrippina, Empress, Sculpture” via

Biblical scholar Richard Bauckham suggests that Joanna is Junia in Romans 16:7—the name Junia is the Latin variation of Johanna (Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies in the Named Women of the Gospels; Eerdmans 2002:109–202). If he is correct, this would indeed be complementary with what Paul writes about her in this verse. She is outstanding among the apostles, suffered as a prisoner for her faith, and Paul admits that she has been a believer in Christ longer than he has (see B. J. Oropeza,  “Junia: A Woman Apostle in the Bible”).

Paul first trusted in Christ only a few years after Christ’s resurrection (see Acts 9). This means that Junia may have been one of the original 120 followers of Jesus in Acts 1. If so, then she would be among the many witnesses who saw the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:5–8). Junia would then meet Paul’s criterion that, to be an authentic apostle, one must be an eye-witness of the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1).

Of course, Paul is not claiming in Romans 16:7 that Junia is one of the Twelve apostles. Rather, she is an apostle just like he is an apostle. She has seen the risen Lord, and she has special authority and the “gift” of apostleship to be sent out to proclaim the gospel abroad (1 Corinthians 12:28–31; Ephesians 4:8–12; cf. Paul and Barnabas as apostles in Acts 14:14).

What Ever Happened to Chuza?

One potential setback with Bauckham’s hypothesis is that in Romans 16:7 Andronicus is Junia’s husband, not Chuza. To be sure, Jews would sometimes decide to change their names when among gentiles. But we are hard-pressed to explain how Chuza’s name could be easily switched to Andronicus.

Bauckham suggests that Joanna’s first husband, Chuza, died. It is only after his death that she married Andronicus.

Given their improvised bad relationship in The Chosen series, another possibility would be that the couple divorced as a result of Chuza’s marital unfaithfulness. Joanna then married Andronicus, a Christ-follower, not long after the divorce. Remarriage might be an option on the ground of Chuza’s adultery based on a prominent interpretation of Matthew 19:9.

Then again, if Joanna is not Junia, the extent of the couple’s current marital problems in the series might simply be the rationale needed for Joanna to separate from her husband and become an itinerate follower of Jesus. Yet another option is that Chuza will eventually become a believer.

Time will tell which way Dallas Jenkins will develop these characters in The Chosen.


About B. J. Oropeza
B. J. Oropeza, Ph.D., Durham University (England), is Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies at Azusa Pacific University and Seminary. Among his many publications include Perspectives on Paul: Five Views (Baker Academic), Practicing Intertextuality (Cascade), and editor and/or contributor to the Scripture, Texts, and Tracings volumes (Romans; 1 Corinthians; 2 Cor & Phil; Gal & 1 Thess: Fortress Academic). He participated on Bible translation teams for the NRSV (updated edition), Common English Bible (CEB), and Lexham English Septuagint (LES). He also has commentaries on 1 Corinthians (New Covenant commentary series: Cascade) and 2 Corinthians (longer work—Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity: SBL Press; shorter work—Wesley One-Volume Commentary). His current specialties include Romans, intertextuality, and Perspectives on Paul. He can be followed on X-Twitter (@bjoropeza1) and Instagram (@bjoropeza1). You can read more about the author here.

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