Last year, a Hollywood documentary wondered if Jesus Christ was a communist. This year, a totally separate film is slated to claim that the Son of Man was born after a Roman soldier raped his mother. The movie, which will be based on Paul Verhoeven’s controversial book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” is set to begin filming in the near future.
According to the blog Wizbang, Verhoeven’s 2008 book was filled with some controversial claims. Aside from dismissing Christ’s many Biblical miracles, it charged that Mary’s pregnancy was anything but immaculate and that it resulted from non-consensual sex with a Roman centurion. This, of course, would mean that Jesus wasn’t (and isn’t) the son of God, as stated in Christian tradition. The author also claims that Christ was never betrayed by Judas Iscariot.
“As for Verhoeven’s book, the adaptation will depict Jesus in a more human light, hence the reason the miracles and the resurrection are being stripped from the story,” IndieWire reported. “Instead, Jesus will be portrayed as an ethicist and a radical prophet, whose message became too politically strong for the Romans to idly accept and endure. While that version may not seem blasphemous to Verhoeven, it more than likely is for many.”
Here’s an official description of Verhoeven’s “Jesus of Nazareth” that has caused so much controversy:
Building on the work of the great Biblical scholars of the twentieth century—Rudolf Bultman, Raymond Brown, Jane Schabert and Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminars, among others—filmmaker Paul Verhoeven disrobes the mythical Jesus to reveal a man who is, after all, startlingly familiar to us, a man who has much in common with other great political leaders throughout history, human beings who believed that change was coming in their lifetimes.
Gone is the Jesus of the miracles, gone the son of God, gone the weaver of arcane parables whose meanings are obscure. In their place Verhoeven gives us his vision of Jesus as a complete man, someone who was changed by events, the leader of a political movement, and, perhaps most importantly, someone who, in his speeches and sayings, introduced a new ethics in which enlightened behavior and the embrace of human contradictions transcend the mechanics of value and worth that had defined the material world before Jesus.
Coming to a deeper understanding of the historical Jesus has been a lifelong passion for Verhoeven, who for the last quarter-century has been among the very few nonacademics participating in the Jesus Seminars. Verhoeven assumed that one day he would make a film of the life of Jesus. Then he realized that it must be a book. Steeped in Biblical scholarship but free of the institutional biases, whether academic or religious, that so often dictate the terms of discussion of the historical Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth is a book that builds a bridge reaching all the way back to Jesus’s lifetime, all the way forward to the present, and from biblical scholars to lay readers whose interest might be personal or political.
Watch the director discuss his take on Christ’s crucifixion, below:
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“It’s not about miracles, it’s about a new set of ethics, an openness towards the world, which was anathema in a Roman-dominated world,” the author and director told Deadline’s Mike Fleming last year. “I believe he was crucified because they felt that politically, he was a dangerous person whose following was getting bigger and bigger.”
Verhoeven’s past films include “Showgirls” and “RoboCop.”