“As a director, my goal is to be completely open. Just look at how I portray sex in my films. They’re considered shocking and obscene because I like to carefully examine human sexuality. It has to be realistic.”
Paul Verhoeven’s biography of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth: A Realistic Portrait, will be published next month by J. M. Meulenhoff, an Amsterdam publishing house. It will be translated into English in 2009.
Verhoeven, 69, is best known as the director of a number of blockbuster films, including Basic Instinct, Robo Cop, and Total Recall.
Over the years, Vehoeven, who is Catholic and holds a doctorate in mathematics and physics from the University of Leiden, was a regular attendee of the Jesus Seminar, which was co-founded by the late religious scholar Robert W. Funk. The Jesus Seminar is a group of scholars and authors that seeks to establish historical facts about Jesus, and examines miracles and statements attributed to him.
Verhoeven’s new book makes the suggestion that Jesus may have been the son of Mary and a Roman soldier who raped her during a Jewish uprising against Roman rule in 4 B.C. The book also makes the claim that Judas Iscariot was not responsible for Jesus’ betrayal.
William Porter, a professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, in Ohio, said the Jesus Seminar was known for making provacative claims, but “they are real scholars–you have to deal with them.”
However, he said Verhoeven’s ideas sounded “pretty out there.”
John Dominic Crossan, a Jesus Seminar founder, agreed. He said that while Verhoeven was a member in good standing, there was little evidence for the view Jesus was illegitimate.
Crossan said the claim was first reported in a polemic written in the 2nd century against the Book of Matthew, intended for a Jewish audience.
“It’s an obvious first retort to claims that Mary was a virgin,” Crossan said. “If you wanted to do a hatchet job on Jesus’ reputation, this would be the way.”