Customer Review

607 of 639 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and clever story, 9 April 2010
This review is from: The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ (Myths) (Hardcover)
I'm disappointed that so many people here have got stuck arguing about whether this is `blasphemous' or not. I'm a Christian and I think this is one of the best books I've read in a very long time. Pullman, whatever his own beliefs, knows his bible (Including the apocrypha) extremely well and has written what I think is an extremely clever story. Many people know how the story ultimately ends; with the death of Jesus on the cross and claims of his resurrection, but along the way Pullman retells some of the most profound stories of our Christian life in an enlightening, and I would even say, a revelatory, way.

The book is a quick read, with short chapters detailing particular bible events. But readers should not think that a quick read makes it a "light" read. There is much to ponder in the writing. The book invokes questions about how history and story are interlinked as well as considering the difficulty of discerning truth from history. That truth can be discovered in story is self evident in the reading of this story.

I don't think this is an anti-Christian book; although it is, very definitely, an anti-church book; but Christianity and the church are two different things. Pullman's description, spoken through the mouth of Jesus in this book, of what the church is and what the church should be, is one of the most finely tuned expose of where we (Christians) have gone wrong.
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Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 40 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Apr 2010 20:59:57 BDT
J. Robbins says:
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Posted on 12 Apr 2010 10:17:25 BDT
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In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2010 10:41:20 BDT
Pumpkin Head says:
Karen

Try reading the book before you criticise it. It is a story that is considerably more plausible than the biblical version. Do you have any proof regarding jesus and the miracles that he performed? Of course not - it's all hearsay and mythology. Pullman's book highlights how easily people get sucked into a system that preys on their vulnerability and gullibility. So what if a large section of the world's population believe it - sheer weight of numbers does not make it true.

Posted on 12 Apr 2010 12:20:51 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 May 2012 12:41:48 BDT
Karen

"Freedom of thought does not mean freedom to decry what is most sacred..."

That sounds frighteningly like an argument against free speech- one of the cornerstones of an enlightened, modern, tolerant society.

What you're saying is: "I believe X and lots of others do too so don't you dare say otherwise!" Is that a healthy perspective? I think you should read over what you have said and ask yourself some serious questions.

Shame on you.

N.B- I'd just like to add: I find it astounding that almost 10 people would dislike my comment. But that's freedom of speech for you, I guess. Do you at least see the irony?

Posted on 12 Apr 2010 16:40:37 BDT
H. Spanner says:
The Christian reflex (I mean, the reflex of many Christians) to leap to the defence of what they hold sacred is like Peter leaping in with his sword at the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus voluntarily submitted to the worst indignities that people could do to him - that was crucial to his plan to save humankind. And he rebuked Peter for trying to protect him. I'm sure Peter meant well, but... his intervention was not well advised. Likewise with all those Christians who invoke the idea of "blasphemy" to try to protect God from insult or abuse. Although, that said, I don't for a minute believe that Philip Pullman would insult or abuse Jesus - he has a lot of respect for him.

I am looking forward to reading this book.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2010 21:49:02 BDT
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In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2010 22:11:13 BDT
T. Deegan says:
Pumpkin Head- are you not missing the point a little?. Obviously such writing from up to 1950 years ago cannot be proven in the same way as your latest debit card transaction. In fact the credentials of the gospels are extremely strong but that isn't what Karen Andrews is talking about. She is saying that works perceived as insufficiently respectful of ?God/the early church/the bible?- not sure which- should not be allowed to be published, even if fictional. I think we'd best give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she wrote this is the heat of the moment and didn't really mean anything of the kind.
Certainly reading the Dark Materials trilogy I found Pullman to have what a thought a rather spiteful attitude towards churches of any kind (not yet read this one). But that most certainly does not mean that his mouth should be stuffed with religious pamphlets to suffocate him. I think today the word "blasphemy" is overused. And I think the tendency of parts of Islam to go off like a bomb whenever it perceives the honour of the Prophet to have been possibly minutely impugned is one of its least endearing and most concerning characteristics and the one which ideally it ought to have managed to rid itself of long ago. Christianity must avoid the same trap. Telling the truth and informing/debating the misguided is very different from beating up and muzzling dissenters (or, heaven help us, fiction writers).

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Apr 2010 09:34:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Apr 2010 09:40:31 BDT
L C James says:
Dear Mrs Andrews,

How can you know whether something is "insulting trash" if you haven't read it ? I read lots of theology that I disagree with; that doesn't make it blasphemous, nor me less of a Christian for having engaged with it.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Apr 2010 11:46:37 BDT
Dandelion says:
"freedom of thought does not mean freedom to decry what is most sacred to a large section of the world's population" says Mrs Andrews. I beg to disagree - that's a very good illustration of precisely what it does mean. One hopes you do not mean that you would wish to prevent non-believers, members of other religions, or atheists from thinking differently to yourself or publishing works that critique your own belief system. That would be a fundamentalist position and rather abhorrent, don't you think?

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Apr 2010 14:12:21 BDT
Pumpkin Head says:
PJ Bishop

"From your side of the fence, l am just a poor deluded fool. From my side of the fence, l wish you were here and could enjoy the view!"

The view I have of the world from my side of the fence is just fine, thanks. There are no fairies at the bottom of the garden either!
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