Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus of Nazareth

by Paul Verhoeven, Susan Massotty


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583229057
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Publication date: 04/06/2010
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 896,835
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Acclaimed as the director of such films as Basic Instinct and Starship Troopers, PAUL VERHOEVEN was born in 1938 in the Netherlands, where he took a dual degree in math and physics. After moving to Los Angeles in 1985 to pursue his film career, Verhoeven became the only non-theologian admitted into the Jesus Seminar, a group of seventy-seven eminent scholars in theology, philosophy, linguistics, and biblical history. Their activities are devoted to determining more precisely the words and actions of the historical Jesus. Verhoeven’s Jesus of Nazareth, the result of his research, was published in 2010.

Table of Contents

Foreword Rob van Scheers ix

Preface xi

Introduction: My Search for the Historical Jesus 1

1 From Conception to Early Adulthood 31

2 John the Baptist and Jesus 39

3 Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God 53

4 Jesus the Exorcist 79

5 Jesus Flees 93

6 The Transfiguration 113

7 The Confrontation 131

8 Lazarus Is Killed 141

9 The Last Day of Jesus' Life 161

10 The Traitor 179

Epilogue 187

Appendix A The Secret Gospel of Mark 189

Appendix B Did Jesus Select the Twelve Disciples Himself? 197

Notes 201

Interview with The Fourth R 265

Bibliography 277

Index of Scriptural Passages 289

Index 297

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Jesus of Nazareth 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am finding Mr Verhoeven's book to be a most enjoyable, and highly informative, read. I especially appreciate the fact that he translates certain words and phrases of the quasi-Elizabethan English of the King James Bible to the original Greek, which clears up alot of former incongruities for me. However, sadly he ultimately misses the all-important point; the Jesus Christ was/is the Only begotten Son of Almighty God. He was either this or a pathological liar and deluded Himself, and His countless followers, both in His time and long after, into believing that He truly was born of divine birth as well as God's appoint Messiah to the Jewish people and Lord and Savior, when His Chosen People ultimately rejected Him, because He was not the warrior-king it was expected that He would be upon His appearing. And if it so happened that The Christ was not divine, then my faith in Him which is supposed to save me from God's Wrath is completely baseless and i am doomed to eternal damnation, even as Mr Verhoeven himself is....Against all the "evidence" that the author has provided herein, i just don't believe that. In studying this athiest's "evidence" my own Christian faith is renewed and i can almost (though not quite) pity the author, when he misses the very things that he himself dug up in his theological studies, that a "casual reader" of the Bible like myself can see as plain as daylight! Yeshua (Jesus's actual Hebrew name) did not impart to Himself the role of God, though i believe He was truly born of a divine birth He never ascribed to himself the power to perform any of the miracles he performed. He told His followers that the things He did, He did only because He was the conduit thru the which God the Father had chosen to act, and to speak And this is where i believe Christians today and for hundred, perhaps thousands of years have gotten it wrong. Yeshua didn't tell his followers to pray, "Lord Jesus" He told his followers to pray to the Father in My Name, thereby they that do are signifying that they are represented by Him, thru the spilling of His perfectly innocent blood When they (we) do this they are signifying their belief in His works and in the words He spoke. Mr Verhoeven clearly doesn't. In fact, he blasphemes The Christ in either saying he did not say the things or do all that He was recorded by his frail human followers as have having said or done. Perhaps not word for word or in the exact sequence, but i believe my God is perfectly capable of preserving the words that He would have read by those His Only Begotten Son ( and by extension) Himself had chosen at the foundation of the earth. It appears that Mr Verhoeven was not one of those predestined to enter into the Kingdom of God, but his studies and his words can still lead God's Chosen in the right direction. Some of the points the author makes, verify what i already always thought (if not believed) and that is, that Yeshua was a revolutionist and that his words and actions were considered by many to be incredibly inflammatory and or accusatory. He wasn't accusing the average man of the streets, but the appointed religious leadership of the day, pointing out the fact that what God had appointed to be of a help to His people, a source of hope and inspiration, unto not only momentary hope and freedom, but eternal salvation to their own greedy and selfish advantage Yeshua shed unwanted light on their evil doings and upon their very collaboration with the servitors of the Enemy in fear of losing their wealthy livelihoods and or lives, when it was their own eternal souls and those of the thousands over whom they'd been set up to serve as watchmen! Of course Yeshua was angry at this traitorous act. No man (or woman) with any real sense of righteous indignation would not had been so. And yet and still He knew it was all a part of His appointment. All the words spoken of Him and to Him and all the terrible things said of Him and to Him had to be said and done It all had to be because it had been prophesied hundreds of years before, because there were those watching and listening for these words to be spoken and for these deeds to be done, so that they might know, afterwards and feel their shame and be enlightened to their own wickedness and be shown their very real need for a very real and absolute salvation. I don't for the life of me understand how the author can have put in that much time and effort to come to know the true Jesus Christ and missed Him! But Thank God he did put in all that time and effort; Thank God, indeed! But i digress. One very telling part of the book, and one that Mr Verhoeven referenced a few times himself, is when Yeshua turns to his follower Peter and in rebuke says, "Get you behind me, Satan!" Now then, Jesus/Yeshua was not refuting the claim made that he, indeed, was the looked-for Messiah, as the author postulates. Rather, in emotional turmoil and trepidation, he is thinking on his own impending gruesome and unspeakably cruel flagellation at the hands of the Romans followed a torturous death of the cross at Golgatha that awaits Him. I imagine (or rather i believe) that when he is confronted by Peter's heartfelt words and suggestion that God's Plan of Eternal Salvation can be brought to fruition by another, easier and less personally painful route, Yeshua's mind harkens back to the moment before he set out in earnest on his path as a homeless itinerant evangelist and teacher, Satan, whom He must have known quite well, tempted Him to take the easy route to His much prophesized Ascension. But had he done so, He'd have been succumbing to the temptation to commit sin (to disobey the Father and upset His plan for Man's Eternal Habitation in His Kingdom) and had He done so, He cannot have been counted blameless and thus full and proper propitiation for the Sins of the World He'd have undercut the whole reason for our very existence, whatsoever, and all in one fell swoop. Even as Satan had tried to do in the Garden of Eden, making necessary the sacrifice of Yeshua in the first place. How unspeakably tragic that Mr Verhoeven and those countless souls, who adhere to his atheistic ideologies, don't get that! But this is only one point that the author makes that will help reiterate the truth of God's word and help point, "those who have an ear to hear" the words that Mr Verhoeven is try to communicate (or rather that God is using to communicate thru his writings) in the right direction. All in all an highly enlightening and incredibly educational read for any serious student of Christian theology. Yeshua/Jesus Himself said, " Seek and ye shall find, knock (actively seek entry into the Kingdom of God) and it shall be opened unto you...."As a Christian, who often struggles with his own lack of faith, i highly recommend this book. In it i found a portrait of the Christ i always have known (believed) existed, and i was not dissuaded by the author's , sometimes, very convincing arguments. I thank the Holy Spirit for His guidance, for i read (am still reading, actually) this book in the hope and belief that He would help keep me vigilant and steer me clear of error.
getdowmab on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not a bad book, just not very interesting or unique. For the most part, Verhoeven borrows the scholarship of others, namely those scholars contributing to the 'Jesus Seminar', in an attempt to place Jesus historically and culturally. To this end he delivers the conclusions of these scholars sufficiently, even if he doesn't adequately address their method for drawing such conclusions. Verhoeven's unique 'take' on the material seems to be his desire to treat the Gospel narratives as dramatic screenplay's, a method that leads him to imagine how he might have written it were he to be writing it as a screenplay, then assuming that the original authors were using similar narrative techniques to increase the drama and highlight the nature of Jesus' message. And this is where I think Verhoeven goes astray, by projecting his own emotional understanding of narrative back to authors living in vastly different times and cultures he makes the same methodological error that many Christian fundamentalists seem to make. I think if a person isn't familiar with modern biblical historical scholarship, this book might provide a provocative entree into the genre, but I think it will only get you so far in an attempt to understand the historical context and mindset of the gospel authors.
Atomicmutant on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, who would have thought that the director of Robocop and Starship Troopers was a bible nerd of the first degree?This is actually a very well informed and scholarly book. Verhoeven obviously knows his stuff. In some ways it is an overview of scholarly thoughts about "The Historical Jesus", but along the way Verhoeven presents some of his own generally well-reasoned speculations that are interesting and somewhat provocative, but not to the degree that you might expect.It's a bit dry in spots but not long, so worth a close read to consider some of his points. He would like to make a film about Jesus, one wonders who would finance such an unorthodox project. His impression is not in any way lurid or titillating as one might expect from the director of Basic Instinct, but thoughtful and thoroughly researched.So, if you're into books about the Historical Jesus (Verhoeven explicitly denies Jesus' divinity and the possibility of any miracles whatsoever), this is an interesting and unexpectedly thoughtful read.As a bonus, I am pretty sure it is the only scholarly book about Jesus to include a reference to Monica Lewinsky. Seriously.
jlhilljr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Verhoeven's book is well-written and is probably a little bit more accessible than the works of many of the other authors of the Jesus Seminar, at least to the average layperson reader. However, he does not bring very much new "to the table." In addition, there are conclusions he draws and statements he make which actually rely on some older scholarship; in some cases, more recent scholarship has actually takes the dominate discussion in a very different direction. For example, Verhoeven's use of the Aramaic term "abba" to mean "daddy" has been recognized by modern textual and linguistic scholars to be an error. "Abba" is simply the Aramaic word for father; no more, and no less. Even a cursory study of modern scholarship would reveal as much. I don't often read books on Jesus from the perspective of an atheist or agnostic, so for that I am grateful to have read this work. However, as scholarship, it falls short.
DubiousDisciple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Question: What happens when an accomplished film maker delves into the realm of historical Jesus scholarship?Answer: Fresh insight.Paul Verhoeven is the only non-theologian admitted to the Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars dedicated to uncovering the historical Jesus. While his book will not be recognized for the depth of research that goes into the books of more noted scholars, it's still an interesting read.Verhoeven digs into the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist, the sin of riches, exorcisms, and much more to paint Jesus in human terms. Jesus is not an ideal for Verhoeven, but a living, breathing person, with fears and failures alongside his accomplishments. Jesus is a hunted criminal who masterfully escapes the long arm of the law...until an apostate disciple masquerading as a Zealot (not likely one of the twelve, nor even named Judas, according to Verhoeven) leads the authorities to him.After Jesus' crucifixion, his disciples believed he returned from the dead. But if the whole of the Jesus story were wrapped up in this miracle of overcoming death, Christianity could not have survived for 2,000 years. Jesus created powerful parables and devised a new code of ethics; regardless of his false understanding that the kingdom of God was imminent, he indeed transformed the world. Verhoeven closes his book with this paradox: Jesus' mistaken view of reality led to the most significant ethical revival in the past two thousand years.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Jesus Seminar is a group of historical Jesus scholars that comes together to discuss and debate the authenticity of the words and deeds attributed to Jesus. Paul Verhoeven, a member of the Seminar but notably not an academic, follows in the footsteps of the general skepticism of the group. They're generally disaffected and anti-establishment, sometimes anti-church, theological liberals. The Jesus that gets formulated in their discourse can be said to have been made in their own image: with the 'dogma' stripped away, Jesus is a challenging radical who lived fast and died young. And as cynically as I am describing the Jesus Seminar, it really is a good group, academically honest and full of interesting interpretations of the socio-political aspects which form the matrix of Jesus' living situation.Verhoeven both follows and deviates from the general approach of the Seminar. His Jesus is also demythologized. But he inserts some really unprofessional snippiness about miracles being impossible, and strips away a lot of the religious aspects of Jesus' ministry because they would've been influenced by later doctrine. Which is of course true, but Verhoeven rather throws the baby out with the bathwater: in his attempt to disentangle the historical Jesus from Christian doctrine later, he inadvertently also removes Jesus' Jewish religiosity. I find this unforgivable - it was odd and such an apparent gap in scholarship for Verhoeven to write about Jesus without writing about Judaism, the Kingdom of God as it would have been conceptualized in Jewish terms, or any messianic expectations. Better scholars who work with "Jesus the Jew" (Sanders, Levine, or Crossan, to begin with) emphasize that Jesus must be read within, rather than against, Judaism. To place Jesus outside of his own religion makes him an unrealistic singularity, akin to later Christian bias, and intimates either ignorance or deliberate disregard for Judaism.Verhoeven contradicts himself in a few instances. He cannot make up his mind whether Jesus believed that the Twelve would or would not be authorities in Heaven. Even worse, he cannot decide whether Jesus intended to die or not. Many of his points are less grounded in scholarship and more in provocative "What if?"s. Several times he alters the language or structure of a saying or parable, without textual support for his alteration, just to make a point that he feels like making. At least he acknowledges when he does this, that's nice, but it's really not the way that academia works.He also runs counter to most Jesus scholarship with his heavy dependence on the gospel of John. Generally we don't - John is so different from the Synoptics, much later (probably a good 35-40 years later than Mark, the earliest), with a questionable authorship but probably from a fringe or sectarian Christian community. By the time John is written, Christian theology is in full swing, and the text and stories can be heavily altered to reflect the beliefs of the audience. Therefore you get things in John like the motif of Jesus escaping death until the 'proper' time, or the time that he so chooses, rather than being at the mercy of Romans. The Last Supper (the institution of the Eucharist) and the scene at the Temple therefore get moved to earlier in the gospel, to minimize the impression that Jesus got snatched up and executed in the middle of the night for causing a scene that was disruptive to both the Romans and the Temple authorities. But Verhoeven prefers John's chronology over the Synoptics - God knows why, it was meant to support John's theology that Verhoeven is trying to demythologize - that the Temple scene was early. I find this to be Verhoeven's greatest error. Without the Temple scene as the climax that leads directly to Jesus' arrest, there really is no catalyst to the crucifixion - therefore no coherence to it. Now why did Jesus get executed? By Verhoeven's timeline, Jesus caused trouble early in his ministry, went
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting read, it was well researched. " Miriam's Secret"and" Miriam's Garden" are mysteries that also bring up similar theories that are found in this book.