This is a fascinating project overall. It is, in filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh’s opinion, an effort to create common ground between muslims and christians. It even won an award in Rome for generating interfaith dialogue.
This production of the life of Jesus was actually funded by Iranian state broadcasters. That’s crazy enough as it is, being that Iran isn’t exactly known for tolerance.
Below I’ve reproduced a bit of the transcript of ABC’s interview with Nader.
LS: What are the key differences between Jesus through Islam’s eyes and Jesus through the traditional Christian perspective?
NT: We are talking about the same beautiful man, the same beautiful prophet, the same divine person sent from heaven. In the Koran, it emphasizes maybe three main points: about the birth, about the fact that he was not the son of God, and then, that he was not crucified. The rest is [the same] Jesus … the sermons, and the miracles, and the political situation.
LS: So, when it comes to Jesus, the message and the reverence are there.
LS: But the virgin birth, the crucifixion…
NT: The virgin birth was the same. The difference in the Koran, God says Jesus was saved. Instead of having him hung and crucified, the person who betrayed Jesus was crucified. This is how the Koran sees it, through the Gospel of Barnabas.
LS: So, you gave the alternate ending.
NT: Yes, two endings. I thought, the Christians, when they see it, it’ll be important for them. [In the Koran] God says, emphatically, he was not crucified. Somebody was crucified in his stead. In the Gospel of Barnabas, there are explications of this. The majority of [Muslims] say the one who betrayed Jesus [was crucified].
This is actually pretty interesting. It’s a completely different take on the notion of Jesus than what we normally hear. I can’t imagine this getting that warm a reception though. It does contradict one of the fundamental principles of Christianity. But, if nothing else, I hope it does something to promote some discussion between faiths.