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Paul Verhoeven Trying To Get An Adaptation Of His Book ‘Jesus Of Nazareth’ Off The Ground

Paul Verhoeven Trying To Get An Adaptation Of His Book 'Jesus Of Nazareth' Off The Ground

It’s been a few years since Paul Verhoeven‘s WWII drama “Black Book,” a marked departure from the director’s usual fare, and while he’s yet to get his followup underway, he hasn’t been lacking options. Over the past little while he’s been attached to a handful of projects, including the Islam and psychic powers film “The Hidden Force“; the video game adaptation “The Last Express“; the “Fatal Attraction“-esque ghost story thriller “Eternal,” but most recently, he’s been trying to get a rather intriguing film off the ground.

Deadline reveals that the director is looking to get a film adaptation of his book “Jesus Of Nazareth” going in front of cameras. First off, let’s rewind a second: a book about Jesus? Somehow this flew past our radar, but last year Verhoeven published “Jesus Of Nazareth,” a (surprise) controversial look at the man — birthed after his mother was raped — that paints a much more human figure as an ethicist, radical prophet and exorcist. Okay, then. But this isn’t just some lark by the director looking to stir the pot. He’s a card-carrying member of the Jesus Seminar, a group devoted to getting as accurate a picture as possible of who Jesus really was. And moreover, it’s not the first time he’s tried to get a Jesus project going.

In the early ’90s, Verhoeven had a film in development over at Mel BrooksBrooksfilm — with “Showgirls” scribe Joe Eszterhas possibly writing it — though it appears he’s since moved on. The subject itself is one that Verhoeven is fascinated with and has been researching for years, but honestly, it’s not too surprising he’s not getting many bites for his film. Projects about Jesus that deviate even slightly from what is in the Bible tend to face the wrath from religious types, and studios these days are more nervous than ever about pissing off that group who have made hits out of films like “The Blind Side.” So chalk it up as another “maybe” for now, but unless some adventurous independent financiers come around, we don’t really see this happening. Anyway, check out the Amazon description of the book below:

Who was the historical Jesus? Here veteran movie director Paul Verhoeven’s lifelong fascination with the facts and fictions surrounding the life of Jesus of Nazareth culminates in a work of brazen scholarship. Combining his passion for the subject with an in-depth knowledge of the history gained through rigorous study, Verhoeven paints a portrait of Jesus the man and Jesus the radical prophet. Verhoeven constructs a new vision of Jesus as a child born from the rape of Mary by a Roman soldier, as a spiritualist who performed exorcisms by screaming and spitting in the mouths of the possessed to drive out demons, and as a militant revolutionary who urged his followers to arm themselves.

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Verhoeven was an observer of some Jesus Seminar sessions, and when he finally told them his outline for a Jesus movie, one scholar-member pointed out that all the stuff Verhoeven came up with was stuff the seminar had explicited voted down as unhistorical!

This reminds the present writer how Anne Rice claimed to have read lots of Historical Jesus work, but in the end decided to ignore them. After her first book “about Jesus,” she moved on to inventing sexual interest for him, as I recall.

That preceding doesn’t get at how really awful Verhoeven ideas for a Jesus film really are. He essentially rejects prevailing views of scholars, makes up an image of Jesus as the bastard son of a Roman soldier, puts the temple scene at the beginning, so he can put his fictional Jesus on the lam from angry priests, and so on. You don’t have to be fundamentalist to be pissed off about this, you need only be a Historical Jesus scholar, or anyone else who takes Jesus seriously.


Not to go too off-topic, but The Jesus Seminar is not devoted to getting as accurate a picture of Jesus as possible. It’s a group that already has a clear view of the “historical” Jesus they want to promote so that each of their theories and evidences are filtered through this lens.


How did you miss this… About 2 years ago this was a huge headline!?!?


This is his passion project, but financing was always the problem obviously. He did an extensive three hour interview last summer on Dutch television, where he talked about this. In addition to the projects mentioned above, he also was developing a noir about the Mexican drug war.


I’d love to see a treatment of the historical Jesus, not the mythological Jesus invented afterwards. Let’s hope Verhoeven can drum up the funding.


i saw both boobs and bullets in black book.


He also was working with writer Jean Claude Carrier on a Jesus movie. I think Carrier got as far as a treatment that was rejected by Sony, Verhoeven’s home at the time.

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