Is historical evidence different from facts?

Between fact & fiction: In search of the 12 apostles

In an interview with National Geographic he explains why the Monty Python film "The Life of Brian" was an inspiration for his book and how his view of Christianity changed during his journey.

If there had been a New York Times bestseller list in the first century AD, what column should the New Testament have been in? Novels or non-fiction?

I don't know if that distinction would have made sense to anyone in the first century. No distinction was made between evangelistic propaganda and what the authors believed to be reality. From a modern perspective, it is difficult to see the gospel as an unvarnished, truthful account. There was no journalistic impulse back then. The people's biased belief in the workings of magical and divine powers took precedence. Nowadays we could perhaps classify it as a creative non-fiction book with an emphasis on "creative".

You were raised Catholic, but then had a crisis of faith. Tell us about how that inspired you to write the book.

I haven't really had a crisis of faith. I just read a few books and then I realized that none of this probably happened the way I thought it would. Even so, I remained very interested in the stories in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. But I have to admit that the biggest inspiration for this book was the movie "The Life of Brian" - that scene in which Brian flees the Romans, leaps out of a tower and ends up in the middle of a market square full of prophets babbling nonsense . So he starts to just tell some nonsense himself and actually an audience gathers in front of him. After growing up in Catholic schools and watching all those sterile Christian educational films, this part of the film seemed like a much livelier, more realistic, and psychologically believable portrayal of the first century than I had ever seen.