-By Warner Todd Huston
So much for Hollywood's days of the sweeping Biblical epic, I suppose, but a film director and author of a controversial book on Jesus Christ has announced he's found the financial backing to produce a film on the Christian Messiah that will contend that Jesus was just a good politician, one born after his mother was raped by a Roman soldier, but a man most certainly not the Son of God.
Director Paul Verhoeven, most famous for having brought movie goers the 1987 film Robocop, is looking to begin filming his newest flick based on his own book, Jesus Of Nazareth.
Verhoeven's 2008 book dismisses the Bible's chronicling of miracles performed by Jesus Christ not to mention asserting that Jesus' birth was less than immaculate and indeed was the result of Mary being raped by a Roman Centurion. Verhoeven also claims to debunk the fact that Judas Iscariot -- one of the Twelve Disciples -- betrayed Jesus to Roman authorities just previous to the crucifixion.
In 2008 Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, called Verhoeven's book "laughable."
"Here we go again with idle speculation grounded in absolutely nothing," Donohue told FOXNews.com. "He has no empirical evidence to support his claim, which is why they say 'may have.'"
This isn't the first time Verhoeven has plumbed a Christ narrative. In 2010 the director admitted that he intended the main character in Robocop to be a Christ-like figure.
"The point of Robocop is of course that it is a Christ story. It is about a guy that gets crucified after fifty minutes then is resurrected in the next fifty minutes and then is like the supercop of the world. But is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end. he could walk over the water and say this wonderful line, which is basically, em, to Clarence Boddicker 'I am not arresting you any more.' Meaning I'm going to shoot you. And that is , of course, the American Jesus."
Verhoeven also asserted that Robocop meant to portray the United States as a bad, destructive place, one that is rotten to the core -- a favorite Hollywood theme.
In 2010 Verhoeven also attacked Mel Gibson's 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, scoffing over the idea that Jesus died for our sins.
Though Verhoeven denies Christ's divinity, he still says he greatly respects Jesus Christ's "ethics."
"If you look at the man, it’s clear you have a person who was completely innovative in the field of ethics. My own passion for Jesus came when I started to realize that. It’s not about miracles, it’s about a new set of ethics, an openness towards the world, which was anathema in a Roman-dominated world. I believe he was crucified because they felt that politically, he was a dangerous person whose following was getting bigger and bigger. Jesus’ ideals are about the utopia of human behavior, about how we should treat each other, how we should step into the shoes of our enemy."
Verhoeven's new Jesus film joins several other Bible-based films already in the works. One on Noah and the flood and a pair of movies based on the Biblical figure Moses are also underway in Hollywood.