4 Lessons on Adapting Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ
Lee Strobel’s worldwide best-selling book [The Case for Christ] contained 13 interviews with international experts in the fields of history, archeology, theology and ancient antiquities. It was a massive data dump of research, information, facts and historical evidence. So how was I, as a screenwriter, supposed to turn all of that into a movie – one that would not only get to the heart of the evidence for the case for Christ but would also entertain audiences with a compelling and authentic personal true story?
Lesson 1 – Do a deep dive into the human story first. Because Lee Strobel’s book is a virtual cache of all the best thinking of world-class experts on the reliability of the evidence for Jesus, I knew I would have no shortage of firepower in that story-telling department. But what I decided to do first was kidnap Lee and his wife, Leslie, in my basement office for four days and dive deep into their personal life. What I discovered was that at the heart of Lee’s case was a deeply emotional love story between a radical atheist skeptic and the woman who loved him into his Christian faith. There was such amazing conflict and drama in their personal journey together that I knew I could use it as the central through-line of the movie.
Lesson 2: When shopping for meat, choose only a few best cuts. Lee’s case is so exhaustive, we knew we could not do all of that research justice in a two-hour movie. So, what I did was choose what seemed like the three most compelling streams of evidence that I knew would lay out in a very cinematic way: The veracity and proof of the 500-plus eyewitnesses who saw the risen Christ after the cross, the reliability of the ancient manuscript stream, and the evidence for the crucifixion and that there was no conspiracy to fake the resurrection. And then I picked five experts for Lee to interrogate Da Vinci Code-style. I had to find the balance between making “the case” a fascinating thriller and overwhelming the audience with information…
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