The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

I was intrigued by the title of this novel and simply had to read it. I’m not religious but I am fascinated by religion. This was simply written and a very quick read.

Here’s the blurb …

In this genius spellbinding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told.

Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws a fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned. Above all, this book is about how stories become stories.

Pullman retells the story of Jesus. However, Jesus had a twin brother Christ. In this story many of the miracles are explained; for example the water into wine at the wedding of Cana miracle was simply Jesus telling the stewards to bring out the wine they had hidden away. Here is the passage describing the conception of Jesus:

One night in her bedroom she heard a whisper through her window.

‘Mary do you know how beautiful you are? You are the the most lovely of all women. The Lord must have favoured you especially, to be so sweet and so gracious, to have such eyes and such lips …’

She was confused, and said ‘Who are you?’

‘I am an angel’, said the voice. ‘Let me in and I shall tell you a secret that only you must know.’

She opened the window and let him in. In order not to frighten her, he had assumed the appearance of a young man, just like one of the young men who spoke to her by the well.

When Jesus is baptised Christ sees a dove fly above them and settle in a tree. Christ decides it’s an omen. It is Christ who tempts Jesus in the wilderness. He wants him to perform miracles to convince the simple minded plus he has visions of a ‘kingdom of the faithful’

[…]Groups of families worshipping together with a priest in every village and town, an association of local groups under the direction and guidance of a wise else in the region, the regional leaders all answering to the authority of one supreme director, a king of regent on earth!

Jesus is horrified.

About this time Christ meets an enigmatic stranger (is he an Angel?).He tells Christ that he is the ‘word of god’, that he and Jesus’s names will both be remembered, and that sometimes truth is outside of history (i.e you might need to manipulate history to make it true). He encourages Christ to make a record of Jesus’s ministry.

I don’t want to reveal too much more or I’ll spoil the story.

This novel is about the making of myths, about how the telling of a story can change it from something ordinary to something magical. The prose is simple almost spare, but it is very thought provoking. I think if you are religious, then you might find this story offensive. I, however, thought it was clever and interesting and might even lead me to read the relevant sections of the bible.

Here are some other reviews …

1 Comment

Filed under Recommended, Serious

One Response to The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

  1. Thanks for a good overview to the book, I think you’re right not to reveal too much and spoil it for others. When I was writing my review ( I really struggled with that – but I think you got it pretty much spot on.

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