SHOWING THE FACE BUT NOT THE SOUL
So far there are no films about Mohammed. His face should not be seen though a bio-pic film in preparation under the guidance of Son of Hamas, Mosab Yousef, may soon alter that. But if film is so far alien to the story of Mohammed, it is not so to the by now much treated story of Jesus. Yet portrayal of Christ, even when intending all fidelity to fact and aiming to respect, never seems quite to satisfy anybody (though I do think at the level of image Jim Caviezel was quite successful in The Passion of the Christ, and Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth came off quite well). Now a Dutch born film director Paul Verhoeven, most famous in Hollywood for directing Robocop and Basic Instinct but who was improbably also a long time member of The Jesus Seminar, is preparing his own Jesus of Nazareth, having received the necessary financial backing. It will be a portrait/story of Jesus as all human, not divine but born as the product of rape – a theory some of the Seminar have been willing to espouse.
Before even commenting on the rape thesis, I would ask the question why is it that Hollywood Jesus films don’t tend to work. Also why for myself as a Christian I can be at times curiously bored or unconvinced by both the historical Jesus studies of liberal sceptics questing for the “real” Jesus and his modified biography and their opposite in evangelical believers retelling the biblical life story of Jesus and/or their own contemporary experiences of him. What is it that isn’t quite reaching me, especially as someone who claims to have been intrigued and amazed by and to have spent much time on study of certain findings about the historical Jesus as written up in the nearly 400 pages of Testament of the Magi, with some claim to be the most detailed intimate portrait of Jesus outside of the gospels if you want facts big and small?
SHOULD WE BE INTERESTED IN THE HISTORICAL JESUS STORY?
To be radical about it, the question might be framed: should I, we, and you be that interested in the Jesus who lived in Nazareth? The perhaps unexpected answer is no…even St Paul wasn’t. He had a vision of a resurrected Christ and he wanted his converts to believe in the divine, the heavenly Jesus to whom the earthly Jesus, whose biography doesn’t concern him, was almost like a mask. “From now on…..we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way (2 Cor 5:16). And Jesus himself doesn’t particularly invite curiosity about himself since his chief earthly purpose was to show us the Father and (re)unite us with him. “Our Father who is in Heaven….”.
In an era that questions whether Jesus lived at all (or if he existed that he died on a cross), when it serves to certify Jesus existed and had the kind of character and understanding attributed to him then up to a point it’s interesting to locate and describe Jesus accurately. It is , especially if late in time a few additional details and clarifications become available. But if you can’t see through Jesus to God, to the Father, the (Pro)Creator and to the Spirit who arrives as the dove at the beginning of ministry, then you may not really be seeing the point or capturing – whether for life or film – the purpose and style of Jesus you aim to portray.
And frankly, isn’t the project of knowing the Creator, indeed the Trinity, more arresting than seeing only Jesus as exactly as possible in his earthly form and apparently so as to copy his ethical example (the “Jesus is my hero” outlook of liberal scholarship) or somehow imaginatively to extend the historical into the present so that Jesus can be imaged like your neighbour (the “Jesus is my best friend” of evangelical devotion). None of this is how Jesus gets perceived by the author of Revelation. If this author was the same as claimed sufficient intimacy to have leaned on Jesus’ breast, then the relationship is much changed in Revelation! And then again if he was author of the 1st Epistle of John he refers – and as something taken for granted among fellow believers – to a fellowship with both Father and Son (1 Joh: 3). This can be a far cry from the, virtually Jesus only religion (at least on the psychological and imaginative plane) of many modern believers. This Jesus is a figure bcome at times so folksy it borders on lack of imagination to be so dedicated to him or to be claiming eternal salvation through him. Can and should so humanized a figure carry such weight of significance? The mind of the average unbeliever boggles!
Something is wrong here and I suspect the extreme modern emphasis upon the historical Jesus (whether understood as fully human or fully divine rather than credibly and meaningfully both together) is connected to decline in meditation upon the Creator and creation as a result of the challenge to faith put by evolutionist theory. And in turn, (though it’s beyond present scope), as I argue in Temple Mysteries and Spiritual Efficiency, the challenge of this debate is largely a false one with certain basic points being seriously ignored or misunderstood.
MAKING FILM OF JESUS INTERESTING
What alone can make for a truly interesting portrait of Jesus is to convey something of the mystery that he and disciples assumed as regards his being, someone at the same time human and messianic/divine. Under the influence of Greek philosophy, much unnecessary confusion would arise over describing, imagining and explaining this paradox. Again the subject is beyond present scope, but sufficient to say philosophy got dragged in to describe what it is almost more an issue of anthropology and psychology of the self. The mystery has always needed to be accounted for in more strictly esoteric, “occult” terms like the quasi-hindu theory assumed among the rabbis and in much of Jewish mysticism, namely that we have more than one “body”.
Jesus was fully human at the level of the human body and mind, but his soul and spirit “bodies” were uniquely divine. However, even he could only know this by faith and introspection, the reason it is said he grew in wisdom and knowledge even at the same time as the gospels assume his unique vocation and status. In fact we can know it had to introspection because unless Jesus was attuned to and mentally focused upon these other levels he only knew what the average intelligent person could see or know. Thus he draws near to a fig tree to see if it is in fruit, something his human nature must discover like anyone else. He doesn’t know who has touched him for healing in a crowd but at a certain level he knows power has gone out of him. It is in his soul and/or spirit body that he is seen like a ghost upon the lake of Galilee by disciples in a storm.
It follows that film must convey this elusive Jesus who is operating on different levels, available and not available to disciples and those around him in a kind of play of light and shade. Even a purely sceptical treatment should still show this because, whether you believe in this kind of Jesus or not, this is how “Jesus the Magician” as he was thought of among pagans, was seen. And although believers would not class Jesus with the average shaman, as a type that is the kind of person humanly that must be enacted to present us anything like the historical figure. Verhoeven’s political, ethical Jesus is merely the product of western materialistic preconceptions. It’s nowhere near the truth psychological or any other….and that director is very far from truth entirely.
VERHOEVEN AND THE RAPE THEORY, JAMES TABOR’S DECEPTION
The theory of a Jesus born of rape or at least an affair of Mary with a passing through Roman soldier, Pantera or Panthera has been going the rounds, if quietly, for over a century. It resurfaces from far more ancient rumour recorded in the Talmud and aimed to discredit Jesus. The name Panthera, despite attempts to prove a Roman soldier from Germany had that name, almost certainly began as a corruption of parthenos, the word for virgin. The rumour cum theory was revived in The Illegitimacy of Jesus, a study in service of the then still developing feminist theology by Jane Schaberg in 1987. The thesis was however somewhat mainstreamed, popularized and given a renewed larger publicity in ‘06 with James A Tabor’s The Jesus Dynasty which caused Schaberg’s book to be reissued in ‘06 by Harper Collins, Tabor’s publisher for The Jesus Dynasty. In short, Tabor’s work was published in advance of Vanhoeven’s ’08 originally Dutch language Jesus of Nazareth study written and issued in English by a small independent press to convince Hollywood that a film from his hands on the secular, political, non-divine Jesus was a valid proposition.
In the birth data of Christ (see the mentioned Testament of the Magi) which I have always maintained being true and finalnecessarily works to this day, there is a suggestive conjunction of Tabora and Panthera. Originally all asteroids were registered in the feminine form so that Tabora equals Tabor. Tabora conjunct Panthera and falls in the house of Jesus’ open enemies and Tabora trines (the aspect of luck and ease) to the asteroid Lie. The signs codify that Tabor will easily get away with the essentially hostile falsehood he is promoting. That he would do this and be a leading voice for the deception is so accurately registered on Christ’s birth data that, (assuming Amazon correctly posts Apr 4th ‘06 as publication date), registering or triggering events Pluto was making degree exact conjunction with Tabor(a) while Mars in war of words and writerly Gemini was directly opposite Panthera. Both were aspecting Lie – Pluto by the easy trine, Mars by opportunity sextile. It should be stressed amid this that the same birth data produce, almost improbably and against statistical probability, the coding to indicate the birth was indeed virginal, the reason the Tabor thesis will thus register as a lie.
At one level Pluto is simply research into the hidden mysteries which this theory obviously belongs to. At another octave of the symbol Pluto is God as (Pro)creator and any divine judgement (Pluto is what is called a malefic despite its power-giving possibilities at the human level) so that in context of the whole picture it can hardly be said to speak well for the author or any like Verhoeven (no asteroid) or Schaberg (no asteroid and no given birth date) who follow in his wake, even if it will temporarily empower outreach to the masses. As regards Verhoeven, though there’s no asteroid for his name, one need only look at his birth date to observe that both his natal sun and his Mars from different directions directly and closely afflict the natally conjunct Christ and Messiah asteroids of Christ’s birth something which reflects basic difficulty with or even hostility to the figure.
PUBLISHING JESUS HERESIES: HARPERS AS HERESY CENTRAL
Publicity and sales for Tabor’s Panthera thesis book was through Harper’s – some version or other of same (my own copy is Harper-Element, but doubtless there is HarperCollins, HarperSanFrancisco etc. Notable however is that at Christ’s birth asteroid Harper is very closely opposed to asteroid Christian, surely a forecast of how particularly this publisher through its publications would almost consistently issue every sensation, every falsehood and heresy opposed to Christian belief not to say lend voice to such as Bishop Spong who denies God and soul (as in Eternal Life: A New Vision) one of Harper’s reps having pursued him to write it though he was reluctant and felt retired from writing. Harper issued The Five Gospels, findings of the Jesus Seminar, and many works by prominent members of the Seminar such Marcus Borg, John Crossan and Burton Mack.
It’s also why, I can now see with hindsight, how even despite a notable recommendation from someone in the business, who considered Testament “fascinating, ground breaking and publishable” – which should be evident to almost anyone – that back in ’06 Harper first lost then rejected without explanation (beyond the “It wouldn’t fit our list” mantra of publishing houses), an earlier ms of Testament of the Magi from which information of the kind just made derives. No, no room for the real Jesus at Harpers. But it’s unlikely God would even have permitted information of the kind I dispose of to go through that particular channel even if that house were willing; which seems unlikely given its predominant mindset where any Christ issues are concerned.. Recently they announced they felt “honoured” to take on the autobiography of atheism’s chief activist Richard Dawkins. That more likely reflects their core position, and in future Christians of integrity should perhaps make a rule of not offering anything to this HeresyCentral if they respect Truth and aren’t into their writings for money and hype only, this house being the single biggest money maker out of religious themes.
Despite occasional protests, it may be that in the past it’s not a case of my speaking too little but rather too much about unjustly ignored revelations of Christ I deal in. As even Nietzsche has it:
Whoever will have much to proclaim one day, must long remain silent unto himself: whoever intends to ignite lightning one day, must long be—a cloud.—
Or again as the gospels have it:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs and do not throw your pearls before swine”…(Matt 7:6).
And frankly, the rape thesis and films basing on it are fit for the dogs and swine who will take it on – greedily enough no doubt. People who listen to Verhoeven should however recall that the recent horror of Luka Magnotta’s cannibalistic One Lunatic, One Ice Pick murder video is widely held to be a homage to Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct. Roger Avary (of Pulp Fiction) chosen screenwriter for Jesus of Nazareth has spent time in jail for involuntary manslaughter under the influence of alcohol to which he pleaded both not guilty and guilty. It is necessary to be under the right spiritual vibes and personally I don’t believe Verhoeven (who admits to having dabbled extensively in the occult in his youth before turning rationalist) and his Jesus Seminar colleagues are so. I once met the now deceased founder of the Jesus Seminar. I shan’t elaborate but I haven’t forgotten my impression.