Director of "Basic Instinct" writes Jesus biography
By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer
Wed Apr 23, 2008
"Basic Instinct" director Paul Verhoeven has written a book that contradicts biblical teaching by suggesting that Jesus might have been fathered by a Roman soldier who raped Mary.
An Amsterdam publishing house said Wednesday it will publish the Dutch filmmaker's biography of Jesus, "Jesus of Nazareth: A Realistic Portrait," in September.
Verhoeven is best known as the director of blockbuster films including "Basic Instinct" and "RoboCop," but he is also a member of "Jesus Seminar," a group of scholars and authors that seeks to establish historical facts about Jesus.
Marianna Sterk of the publishing house J.M. Meulenhoff said the book includes several ideas that run contrary to Christian faith, including the suggestion that Jesus could be the son of a Roman soldier who raped Mary during a Jewish uprising against Roman rule in 4 B.C.
The book also claims that Judas Iscariot was not responsible for Jesus' betrayal, she said.
The movie director's claims were greeted with some skepticism among those who have dedicated their careers to studying the life of Jesus. One issue is that there is very little information about the life of Jesus outside of the Gospels. The Gospels as understood by Christians for nearly 2,000 years do not support Verhoeven's ideas.
William Portier, a professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, in Ohio, said the Jesus Seminar is known for making provocative 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 is little evidence for the view that Jesus was illegitimate.
Crossan said the claim is first reported in a polemic written in the second 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."
The most likely scenario for people who don't accept that Jesus was literally the son of God and had no human father is simply that he was the son of Joseph, Crossan said.
Sterk said the book will be translated into English in 2009. Verhoeven hopes it will be a springboard for him to raise interest in making a film along the same lines, she said.
Verhoeven, 69, has dreamed of making a movie about Jesus' life for decades, she said.
Asked whether it would be difficult to follow Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ," she said Verhoeven knows he may be somewhat late to market.
"He is painfully aware of that," she said. "However, he has quite a different angle."