Hey, remember the movie about the merely human Christ that pop-culture super-violent artistic director Paul Verhoeven (voting member of the more-or-less defunct Jesus Seminar) has been trying to get off the ground for the past 20 years or so?

It has a screenwriter now. (Also it finally has financial backing, which is rather more important than a screenwriter.)

No doubt this will provide everyone with an opportunity for yet another refresher course on lonnnng-outdated naturalistic Jesus theories (Mary was raped by a Roman soldier!!), but... well... remember that book he wrote after 20 years of research that he released a couple of Easter seasons ago (April 2010) and the important and relevant and dangerous and edgy controversy it stirred up that everyone thought they ought to try to answer or get on the bandwagon with?

No? Well, the reason you don't remember the firestorm of controversy isn't because the book didn't come out. Because it totally did. There was even a Kindle edition last year, just in time for the pre-Christmas rush. (At least he finally settled on enough of a particular revisionist theory to say something kind-of solid about.)

Is it anything really new? Absolutely not; it's clearly warmed-over JSem (and warmed-over Bultmann for that matter). PV removes whatever he feels unworthy of Jesus out of the texts in order to present the "complete man" instead. That isn't my dismissive speculation; that's practically what he says in interviews and how his book has been officially marketed. It also happens (by entirely no coincidence whatever) to be such a standard operating procedure for Jesus Seminar-ians that the stereotype has become dull.

People aren't as interested in the novelty of scissoring up the texts on shaky historical-critical grounds to find a more palatable Jesus as they used to be. Even the novelty value of doing so has worn out. So the movie has to be marketed on what scurrilous rumor-mongering shock value he can attempt to attach to it, namely the old Pantera myth. Oh noes, some Christian out of the hundreds of millions of us in Europe and North America may shoot him for it!--whatever shall he do?! But he must bravely soldier on against the odds of such irrational dangerous opposition to him, despite warnings for his safety from concerned friends and colleagues.

I guess it worked enough for me to write a wry journal post about it anyway, hm? Can't say I'm not doing my part to promote his attempt! {g}

It's kind of sad when the news isn't that we have something to not really panic about, but that (after whole decades of publicly hashing out these topics repeatedly in waves) a famous director has trouble ginning up enough interest, even by controversy, to rate his attempt as being worth mentioning.

Been there; done that; threw up; got the t-shirts; threw up on the t-shirts; washed the t-shirts; t-shirts getting worn out now from multiple washings and from our growing older; time to move them on to Goodwill.

But hey, if he manages to give more conservative and careful scholars a real opportunity to chew it all up again, and to demonstrate what the results are from more valid and nuanced and detailed historical and narrative criticism, so be it.

You go, PV!


Jason Pratt said…
Registering for comment tracking.
Jason: Good news! I'd love to be able to break Why the Jesus Seminar can't find Jesus out of mothballs. And it really isn't fair that Carrier and Doherty and those nincompoops dominate the conversation -- IMO, the Jesus Seminar actually did have a few good things to say, even if between gritted teeth.
Jason Pratt said…
I think the main thing the JSem contributed was something the Third Quest overall had been contributing to for a while (although even conservative scholars had been doing this back before the turn of the century--interrupted by the World Wars): historical and cultural contexts.

I'll take any well-researched and reasoned arguments and analysis on that as I can get, even if it's from JD Crossan. It's the goofy theories that don't synch up with the demonstrable facts that I have a problem with. PV goes with the highly discredited theory that Jesus was a preacher of revolution against Rome, for which Pilate crucified him as a threat against the Empire. (And not just against his own little corner of the Empire, per PV, but against the Empire at large!)

Considering PV is Dutch, I guess it could be worse: he could be promoting the hypersceptical Jesus Myth position made infamous by some of his fellow countrymen. But then, that wouldn't be very conducive to writing a book and making a movie about the "complete man" of the real historical Jesus. {wry g

(The attempt to make a movie about that would certainly have the value of being a radically creative imaginative exercise! Dang, now I kind-of wish he was going that route after all! {lol!})


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