JOSHUA CHRISTIANSON

Screenplay Treatment
Story by Nivram Dlonra (aka Marvin Arnold)
An alternate present. Controversial drama, mid-20th century.

It is late afternoon on a desert landscape. The sun is setting behind the horizon. In the distance, silhouetted by the magenta and gold sky line, a small camel caravan moves slowly across a desert hillside. As the evening grows darker, the stars are beginning to come out. The caravan camps for the night near an oasis and now the sky is glowing with brilliant starlight. Three wealthy and richly clad men sit by the campfire as their servants prepare the camp.

The men are discussing the three bright stars, the Wanderers (Jupiter, Saturn and Venus). According to their calculations, these three stars will converge sometime in the next three nights appearing as the single brightest star ever seen in the eastern sky. They are on a journey to Bethlehem where the stars should appear nearly overhead at their convergence. The three men, from three different cultures, are in agreement that this astronomical phenomenon should mark the beginning of a new calendar. This is to be the year zero of the new millennium.

In the year 2 AD, King Herod the Great of Judah, fearing rumors of a new king being born to the Jews, ordered the death of all young males born in the Bethlehem area of Judah. In all, twenty-eight male children under the age of three years are slain by Herod's personal guards. Among those put to death is a son born to Joseph, a carpenter and his betrothed wife, Mary.

King Herod and his second son, Antipas Herod, are closely allied with the Roman occupational forces. The elder Herod dies in the year 4 AD and wills that Antipas is to become heir to the throne of Judah. Ben Phillip Herod, the the first born son, vows to regain his rightful kingdom. He forms an alliance with the religious sects of the Zealots and the Essenes. The Sanhedrin, seeing that Ben Phillip might be able to drive the Romans from Judah, secretly support him.

By the year 40 AD, Ben Phillip has gained the popular support of the Hebrew people. His army and the rebel groups unite into a single force against the Romans. The defeat of the Roman legions takes place on the plain of Megiddo (Armageddon) and is the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire's expansion in the Middle East. A major force in turning the tide of battle against the Romans was a ragtag band of revolutionaries which called themselves the Massad. Their leader is one Judas Iscariot.

This strange alliance of Ben Phillip's army and the religious revolutionaries are successful in driving all Romans out of Judah by the year 66 AD. King David's Temple in Jerusalem is not destroyed, and The Arch and all the records of Jewish history remain in tact.

It is an early December in 1929, a car (Model A Ford) pulls up in front of a frame cottage, the home of Mary Smith and her parents. Houses in the neighborhood are decorated for Hanukkah. The town is Province, California. Joe Christianson is picking up his fiance, Mary to go to the movie. At the movie theater a newsreel is being shown (in black and white) of a astronomer at the Lowell Observatory who is explaining about the convergence of the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Venus which will occur during this coming year. The astonomer explains that these three planets will appear as a single star in the sky for a short period of time.

After the movie, Joe and Mary stop in a park to discuss their plans to be married. Mary explains to Joe about this dream or vision of a man in white that came to her and told her that her would soon be pregnant with a boy child who was to be named Joshua. Mary tells Joe that she has never been with a man before, but that she believes that she is now expecting a child. Mary is a devoutly religious young girl raised in a strict Judeo-Catholic home. Joe is very distraught and takes Mary home.

The next day Mary goes away to stay with Elizabeth Hernandez (her mother's sister) in New Salem, a large coastal city. Elizabeth is also with child and tells Mary of her husband, Zach's, vision that she would bear a child whom she is to name Jonathan. This child is coming to prepare the people for the coming of the promised one, the Messiah.

A short time later, while Joe is sleeping, he is also visited by a man dressed in all white, an angel (appearing to be a modern man in every other respect) who tells him that what Mary had told him was the truth. Joe goes after Mary and tells her that he wants to marry her and provide for her and the child. Mary returns home with Joe to Province.

Mary nears the time for her to have the child and Joe says that they must be married soon so as to give her child his name. The laws of California require that a marriage must be registered at the birthplace of the husband. Joe Christianson had been born in Bread a small town some miles away. It is a stormy night when Mary and Joe arrive (in Joe's car) in his hometown of Bread, a suburb of New Salem. There is no place for them to stay. They spend the night in a barn (a horse stable) where Mary's child is born. The boy child is named Joshua Christianson.

That night, the convergence of the three planets takes place. A large group of angles (mostly seen as bright lights) appear in the sky over Bread. This is witnessed by thousands in the nearby city of New Salem. Many who see the angles believe that they are singing about the glory of God and some say that this is the foretelling of the coming of the Messiah. Others believe that it is only a film projected onto the coastal fog or some type of advertising stunt. The incident is reported in the news, but interest in the event soon dies out. Not too long afterwards, the city fathers vote to change the name of New Salem to Los Angeles (The Angles) because of its new found fame due to the unexplained occurrence.

There is a European war looming and the people are dividing into pro and anti-Nazi factions. It is a time of much political unrest. Joe is a carpenter and decides to take his family to central Mexico where there is considerable new construction taking place. Joe feels that he will know when the time is right for them to return to Province. Young Joshua grows up among the descendents of the Aztec Indians and is befriended by an old man who knows much of the records which were destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadors when they conquered Mexico. Joshua now has a brother named Jimmy and a sister named Maria. The family returns to California after the beginning of the German occupation in 1946.

Joe, Mary and their three children move back to Province, a coastal fishing village where Joe gets a job as a carpenter working in a new housing development. Joshua makes friends with two young fishermen, brothers by the names of John and James (sons of Zebedee). Ben David University, a large Judeo-Catholic school, is located inland, but nearby. Joshua begins his studies to become a priest and commutes to the campus on a motorcycle (Harley-Davidson). On the weekends, he works for his father building houses (carpenter).

On the university campus, Joshua is attending an undergraduate course on religion. The professor is explaining that by the year 300 AD, there were four basic religions that began in and around the ancient city of Jerusalem and spread throughout the known world. The oldest of these religions was the Orthodox Jews. The second was the Moslem religion. The third religion was known as the Baptizers which was founded by a prophet from the Tribe of David (Johan the Baptizer). The fourth and fastest growing of all these religions was founded by Saul of Tarsus, a former Jewish priest of the Samaritan order and a religious reformer. Saul received a vision in the desert in which God told him to go into the word and preach a new form of religion. He based many of his teaching on the writings of Matthew the Zealot, and a fisherman called Simon Peter (the rock). In fact Simon is honored to this day as being the first Pontiff of the new religion.

The professor's lecture continues. The religious order founded by Saul is known as Judeo-Catholicism, of which many of you in this classroom are members. The seat of authority for this religion was moved to Rome in 313 AD where it is known today as the New Sanhedrin. The Orthodox Jewish and the Moslem religions remained dominant throughout the Middle East. The new Catholicism spread rapidly into Europe and the new world as did the Baptizer's religion. A common thread between three of these religions is the prophecy of a yet unborn Messiah. The Moslems believe that their prophet Mohammed had been a teacher, not a Messiah, sent from God whom they call Alia.

Joshua often goes to the campus temple to pray. On occasion, Joshua travels into Los Angeles to attend temple. He stays late to engage the temple priests in lengthy philosophical discussions. The priests consider Joshua to be wise far beyond his years.

Back on the university campus, Joshua is attending history class. The professor's lecture this morning is on the revolution of the British American colonies in 1776. After a brief battle with the British, the American revolutionary army is disbanded when their leader, General George Washington, dies of influenza that winter in Morristown, New Jersey. A few years later, the American colonies partitioned King George of England for independence and it was granted. Mainly because King George II was ill and did not wish to pursue a lengthy and expensive colonial war. The capitol of the new Commonwealth of America was located in Philadelphia. The new colony shared equal status with Canada as part of the British empire. The Confederate States of America successfully declared its independence in 1860 and its capitol is now located in Atlanta, Georgia.

The French territory known as Louisiana, which remains a French protectorate with its capitol located in New Orleans. The Spanish control all of the territory south and west of Louisiana. The exception being the Republic of Texas which successfully won its independence in 1836. The colonies and independent countries in North America freely traded with each other and in some respects were only lines on a map until the end of World War II.

The Commonwealths of Canada and America fought with the British in Europe during World War II. Neither the Confederate States of America nor the Republic of Texas maintained sufficient armies to be of any assistance in the war and they remained neutral. Spain had been conquered by Germany in 1942. Great British and France sued the German Empire for peace in 1944 along with Russia. Most of Russia west of Moscow became part of Germany. An attempt to unite the Baltic countries and Russia to form a Soviet Union failed. The Japanese Empire now extended east and south in the Pacific to include Hawaii and the Philippines.

Adolph Hitler, who led the rebellion against the former Kaiser, declared himself dictator over Germany and Austria. Hitler was assassinated by his own generals in 1941. General Goring became the new Kaiser over the German Empire. Goring stopped the persecution of the Jews in Europe and prevented the Holocaust. The next and present Kaiser was General Rommel who negotiated the peace in Europe ending World War II and was considered to be a reasonably benevolent ruler.

California, largely settled by Spanish and English, now became an occupied territory of the greater German Empire. (This unique combination of an English and Spanish speaking peoples, being governed by a Germanic language country, is similar to that of South Africa which was settled by Bore and German people, but who speak English because it had previously been a British colony.)

General Pontius, a former Luffwathe pilot (Pontius Pilot) and German war hero, was given a political appointment as Governor of California. The territory of California stretched from Oregon in the north to the Yucatan peninsula in the south. After World War II, Spain was granted sovereign nation status once again. However, Germany retained the territory of California as the price for there return to sovereignty. Thus, California is now part of the greater German Empire.

Governor Pontius would later send this report to the Kaiser in Berlin. "There is a man called Joshua Christianson who seems to be a man of virtue. He travels and teaches in our region. The barbarians esteem him as a prophet, but his followers love and adore him as the son of the living God. He is reported to call the dead back from their graves and to be able to heal all sorts of diseases by a simple word or touch. His personality is likable and he is well respected by those who know him. He is a tall man and is well shaped. His hair is the color of a ripe chestnut and falls in waves about his shoulders. His forehead is high, his cheeks without blemish or wrinkle. His nose, mouth and chin are of good symmetry. He has a thick beard of the color matching his hair which reaches below his chin. His eyes are bright blue, clear and serene, with a look of dignity and innocents. He rebukes with authority that which he feels is wrong. He counsels those who approach him in a mild manner. He addresses the crowds that seek him out with elegance and seriousness. No man has seen him laugh, yet his manner is exceedingly pleasant and he has a presence of wit with men. He is temperate, modest and wise, with a manner approaching that of being divine."

Jonathan, the son of Elizabeth and Zach Hernandez, is a devout member of the Baptizers. Jonathan becomes an evangelist and lives in a religious commune in the Mohave Desert when he is not traveling throughout California preaching the coming of the Messiah. The Baptizers carry on the ancient tradition originally practiced by the Essenes, that of proclaiming ones faith by the symbolic gesture of immersion in water. This ritual represents the immersion of ones faith in the holy spirit of God.

Joshua travels on his motorcycle to seek out Jonathan and asks him to baptize him. Jonathan declares that it is Joshua who should baptize him because Jonathan recognizes Joshua as the Messiah. As Jonathan Baptizes Joshua in the river waters, the clouds are parted and bright rays of light shine down on Joshua. A voice proclaims, "This is my beloved son in whom I am greatly pleased".

Joshua goes into the desert because he is very confused by all that has just taken place. Even as a small child, he had been aware of the special powers he possessed to be able heal and to understand the thoughts of others. He had also been told many times about the unusual circumstances that occurred on the night of his birth. He is, however, not yet ready to accept the fact that he is the promised one (The Messiah).

For the next forty days, Joshua wanders in the Mohave desert region. He camps out at night and stops from time to time at a secluded grocery store and gas station. He confronts a spirit that calls himself Baalzebub. Three times the spirit tries to tempt Joshua into using the powers of God, which have been given him, for worldly gain. The spirit appears first as a Medicine Man, then a beautiful maiden, and finally as a wolflike creature. Almost giving into these temptations several times, Joshua succeeds in rejecting the spirit. Joshua is still not ready to begin a ministry, but it will soon be thrust upon him without any choice on his part. He will plead, unsuccessfully, with God to remove this burden from him.

Joshua travels to the town of Bethany, California where he is invited to a friend of his family's wedding. The daughter of a widower and successful attorney, Nat (Nathanael) Holman, is being married. It is a large wedding with many guests attending. As he enters the town, he is approached by two men, Pete (Simon) Rockney and his younger brother, Andy (Andrew). They explained to Joshua that they have been sent by Jonathan, the Baptizer, and told to hangout with Joshua. They attend the wedding with Joshua. At the wedding, Joshua meets Phil (Phillip) Bethesda, a young man he knew at college and whose father is a Greek ship captain. It is at this wedding that Josh (as his friends call him) turns six large bottles of water into fine wine.

Joshua and the three new followers (John, James and Phil) meet at a diner after the wedding. The four tell Joshua that they want to travel and preach The Good News (Gospel) into the unfriendly lands to the east. They want to go on a crusade into Texas and Louisiana. The four tell Joshua that they feel that the time of the coming of the Messiah, the coming of God on earth, is near. Jimmy Christianson, Joshua's younger half brother, and Joshua's cousin, Jack Christianson, will also go with them.

Joshua goes to look up his friends, Pete and Andy Rockney, the fishermen. Tommy Thomas (who would become known as the Doubter), is now working for Pete and meets Joshua for the first time. Joshua tells Pete and Andy about his plans to go on a religious crusade. They do not go with Josh at this time.

The next day Nat, Pete and Phil go to a used car and truck lot to purchase a bus or a van. Phil will put up the money as he has sold his home and given up his law practice. They meet a used car salesman named Jerry (Judas) Black. Jerry is a member of an outlaw group, The Comrades (The Zealots), who plan the overthrow of the Nazi occupational government. Nat purchases a used tour bus and Jerry, the salesman, asks to go with them on their tour. He offers to be their manager, treasurer and bookkeeper. The band of missionary evangelists now totals seven plus Joshua (Nat, Phil, John, James, Jimmy, Jack and Jerry).

The next morning, after crossing the desert, the group stops their bus to add water to the radiator. While the others are tending to the bus, Joshua walks over and strikes up a conversation with a divorced woman. She then goes and tells the people of the town about Joshua and his group and he preaches to them that evening. He is among people who basically hate his kind, but is able to win them over. The next morning, a crowd gathers at the small motel where they are staying and Joshua heals a sick man.

Joshua and his group are invited to the home of a wealthy man who throws a lavish dinner party for them. Many questions are asked about his faith. Joshua befriends prostitutes and sinners as he travels. Returning home, he stops by his hometown and is not accepted by anyone who knew him when he was growing up. He and his group are run out of town. At the seashore, Joshua again looks up his friends, Pete and Andy, who are coming in from fishing. The group go aboard the boat and head out to Catalina Island. In route, they encounters a violent storm and Joshua calms the water.

That night, Joshua shows Pete the if his faith is powerful enough he can walk on water. Tommy, seeing this, now asks to join the group. The next morning, Joshua goes ashore. On the beach, Joshua encounters a nearly naked and bearded homeless man who is deranged. He cures the man and then others in the crowd plead with him to perform miracles for them. Joshua escapes, unseen, through the crowd.

A tax collector from the IRS, Lee Mathews, calls on Joshua at his home to serve him with an unpaid tax summons. During the course of the evening, Joshua convinces Lee to give up his job and follow the ministry. A powerful judge by the name of Nicholas comes to Joshua and tells him about a plot by the members of the New Sanhedrin to declare him a revolutionary and have him arrested. Joshua and his group decide to go up into the mountains and camp out for a time. Leaving the city, they encounter a young revolutionary by the name of Sam McCabee, who also joins them. The followers of Joshua now number twelve (Jimmy, John, James, Pete, Andy, Nat, Jerry, Jack, Lee, Phil, Tommy and Sam).

In the mountains, Joshua tells his followers that he is the Messiah and the Son of God. In the course of the following days, Joshua travels through many of the small towns preaching and healing until the time comes when he chooses to return to Los Angeles for the celebration of Passover. He is received into the city by cheering crowds of fans who have heard of him.

Joshua and his small band, including some women, are camped on a hillside just outside the city. The Nazi troops come for Joshua and Peter prepares to fight them and before Joshua can stop him Peter injures one of the solders. When Joshua helps the man up he is healed by Joshua's touch. An officer asks "Who are you?" Joshua replies, "I am the Messiah, the Promised One!" He is accused of preaching the overthrow of the government and is arrested. Governor Pontius calls Joshua to his office where he questions him. Pontius contends that this man is not guilty of anything, but political pressure is brought to bear until Joshua is sentenced to death for treason.

Joshua is tied to a wooden cross and executed by a seven man Nazi firing squad. His followers take him away that evening and no trace of Joshua's body is ever found. Over the course of the next forty days, Joshua appears to the various members of his group. On the fortieth day after his execution, Joshua appears with some of his followers and he charges them to go into the rest of the world and teach those things which he has told them. Joshua turns and walks toward a brilliant white light that glows brighter and brighter until it engulfs him, and then he is gone. His followers stand alone.

(Scrolling in white letters, moving off into the distance on a black screen, read:) "The birth and life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, without a doubt, took place at exactly the time deemed necessary by God, at a time of the emergence of learning and cultural development throughout the world. However, for the sake of the telling of this story, the coming of the Messiah was moved nineteen centuries into the future in order to pose the question, what if The Christ had been born into modern times."

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