In addition to that claim, the director/author claims that Judas Iscariot never betrayed Jesus.
Not surprisingly, Verhoeven attends the Jesus Seminar, an organization made up of so-called scholars who use colored marbles to figure out what Jesus said and didn't say. The fact that he comes from the Jesus Seminar is only a reminder of why they should never be taken serious in the first place. The Jesus Seminar is nothing more than masked liberalism disguising itself as scholarship. The attempt is the same, if we can reject the words of Jesus and the claims of the Gospels and the New Testament, then we are not accountable for what the New Testament says, that is, that Jesus is God, we are sinners, we have rebelled against Him, we stand condemned before God justly, if we do not repent, we will be sent to Hell.
What Verhoeven offers may be a new theory, based on little or no evidence, but it does not change the motive behind the theory. For thousands of years, people have struggled with what to do with Jesus. Virtually everyone, it seems, has tried to explain away His diety and the exclusivity of the gospel, and all have failed. Whether it be that Jesus' bones have been found, or Jesus' bloodline still exists, etc. every theory offered by modern and ancient "scholars," fall on deaf ears, are based on weak evidence, and are logically stupid.
What evidence Verhoeven offers I am not for sure. It seems that he has "uncovered," some ancient documents supposedly dating back to the first and second century that make, or suggest, this claim. But let's just take this claim for all it's worth and see how stupid it really is.
First, let's say these documents are legitimate. In all likelihood, I am willing to venture that the Gospels were written prior to these documents, and are therefore closer to the original events, written from eye witnesses who were there and knew Jesus personally. Not to mention the fact that immediately once the Gospels were penned, they were accepted as genuine and accurate by fellow witnesses of Jesus. These documents, however, where is their legacy?
Secondly, assuming that these documents are legitimate, and what they say about the birth of Jesus should be taken seriously, we are still stuck with the problem of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Perhaps we should begin there instead of His death.
Many have tried to explain away the crucifixion by denying that it ever happened, such as the Islamic view, while many others have tried to explain away the resurrection, with many wild theories. First, let's look at the crucifixion.
Muslims argue that Jesus was never crucified. Rather, He escaped, and someone who looked like Jesus was crucified. These arguments falls apart immediately. First, as if people didn't notice that it wasn't Jesus. The religious leaders hated Him, his very mother, who was raped by the way, did you know that?, was at the cross the entire time, some of his disciples were present at the mock-trial, and his closest friends where with him at the garden. That means that the Gospels have more eye witness accounts of the events of Jesus than Verhoeven's many claims. These are all persons who were very close to Christ and/or knew Him very well, sat under His teaching, and watched Him closely. The likelihood that none of them noticed that the person being executed wasn't really Him is unlikely.
Furthermore, this claim doesn't explain away the many martyrdoms of Jesus' followers. Why in the world would they be willing to break off of Judaism, suffer persecution, and be tortured to death? The only answer is that it really happened, they really saw Him die, they really saw Him alive afterwards, and their lives where changed for it, and they could not deny it. Jesus was who He claimed to be.
The overwhelming evidence of history is that Jesus, the real Jesus, was executed by the Romans on a cross just outside of Jerusalem.
As for the resurrection, the arguments against it are also all bogus. For example, many have tried to argue that those who "witnessed," Jesus being alive after His death were merely hallucinating due to the amount of stress they were under. Friedrich Nietzsche held this view and many have followed him. The problem with this is immediately apparent. You mean to tell me that everyone had a hallucination of the same event, with the same details, at the same time, and they were willing to die for it? Such an argument is laughable at best.
Or, maybe the disciples went to the wrong tomb. The problem with that is that if they were confused, Joseph of Arimathea could have showed it to them. I'm sure he checked himself. Secondly, who forgets where their best friend, son, family member, etc. is buried? I know I wouldn't. Furthermore, we are still stuck with the question that they were all willing to die for this claim of resurrection. If they went to the wrong tomb, what explains their claim that they literally saw Him and they were willing to die for it? Absolutely nothing other than that it was a fact!
Or, maybe the disciples stole the body. The first problem is the Roman guards wielding their swords and shields. That's a problem! Secondly, it's hard to convince people someone is alive whenever they are dead. It is obvious whenever someone is dead, especially in Jesus' case. For those others who "saw," Him would have noticed the lifelessness of the body plus the many wombs and markings on his body (if there was any flesh left) from the whipping and the crucifixion. Such an idea is bogus and was the original false claim to explain away his resurrection (see Matthews account of the resurrection).
But we are still left with the same question, why die for something you know to be false? And not only die, but be tortured, hated, persecuted by your own people and the Romans, and never cease spreading the word about Jesus Christ? Nothing can explain it away except that He really died, He really was who He said He was, and He was literally raised from the dead. And if that fact be true, then we are responsible for everything He ever said and did. To deny Him is to deny God and to stand before Him guilty for our ignorance.
Verhoeven has no answer for these claims. Instead, he attacks the birth of Jesus. Verhoeven's hope is that if Jesus is the bastard son of a Gentile, Roman soldier, conceived through rape, then He cannot be who He claimed He was. But outside of the lack of credibility of that argument, Verhoeven is unable to answer to the other "wild," claims of the New Testament, such as Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
If the Gospels were right about that event, then we can assume that it got the virgin birth right. Nothing is more illogical than a human being raising himself from the dead. And if that be a fact, then the virgin birth is not only reasonable, it makes sense of the rest of the story about Jesus. His followers weren't executed just because they believed Jesus was a moral teacher, or that He was wrongly accused, betrayed, and killed, or even just because they believed He somehow survived or was even resurrected. They were executed because they believed that He was God and belief in Him was the only means of salvation. Therefore, they were persecuted, scoffed at, and murdered.
As I think about the many wild claims of modern "scholarship," things haven't really changed much. Jesus' followers still make the same claim concerning Him; He was born of a virgin, He lived a perfect life, He died, He was raised from the dead, and He was the God of very gods. And for that Christians around the world, including here at home, are persecuted, scoffed at, and in many placed, murdered for such a claim.
Why? Why the vitriol for Jesus? Why not ignore our claims? Because if we are right, then every person is responsible for what they do with this truth. And the truth is, to deny Christ, is to reject God and to declare ourselves wishing for hell. And such a claim is not only offensive, it attacks the very heart of man. And because of that, the world, who loves the darkness rather than the light but the light exposes their deeds as evil (John 3), will do whatever it can to suppress the truth and write off such claims as ignorant and unbelievable, even if it means to propose theories that are wilder, more ignorant, and less believable. Verhoeven's claim fits in this category and should be written off as yet another failed fad that might sell a lot of books, but will do nothing to the truth of Christ.
Christ remains, but Verhoeven and his ideas will pass away. Maybe Verhoeven should stick to fiction, for this story belongs in the fantasy section.