An excerpt from The Fifty Year Mission (Gross/Altman) describes one of the ideas from Gene Roddenberry for the first Star Trek movie that was shot down by Paramount‘s Barry Diller.
The God Thing would have had Captain Kirk duking it out with an alien disguised as Jesus.
According to Roddenberry, it “wasn’t God they were meeting, but someone who had been born here on Earth before, claiming to be God. I was going to say that this false thing claiming to be God had screwed up man’s concept of the real infinity and beauty of what God is.”
Author Michael Jan Friedman was asked to put the rejected script into novel form. He explained what happened when offered the task. “After I had written several successful Trek novels, Trek editor Dave Stern asked me to turn Gene’s efforts into a novel called The God Thing,” he said. “To the best of my recollection, I received both the script and a short narrative version of it. Naturally I jumped at the chance to translate and expand it.
“Gene was — and still is — one of my heroes, for God’s sake, no pun intended. As he had already left the land of the living, this was a unique opportunity to collaborate with him. But when I read the material, I was dismayed. I hadn’t seen other samples of Gene’s unvarnished writing, but what I saw this time could not possibly have been his best work. It was disjointed — scenes didn’t work together, didn’t build toward anything meaningful. Kirk, Spock and McCoy didn’t seem anything like themselves. There was some mildly erotic, midlife-crisis stuff in there that didn’t serve any real purpose. In the climactic scene, Kirk had a fistfight with an alien who had assumed the image of Jesus Christ.”
So there you have it. Instead of V’Ger, you might have seen Kirk slugging a faux Jesus.
As for Friedman’s novelization, the project was eventually dropped.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter