- Hardcover: 245 pages
- Publisher: Canongate Books; 1st edition (1 April 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847678254
- ISBN-13: 978-1847678256
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.7 x 21.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 236 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 392,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ (Myths) Hardcover – 1 Apr 2010
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"A true, charismatic Christianity is set against a highly institutionalised church...the charm of this book lies in its seriousness about the story it tells, and about its being a story." (Frank Kermode London Review of Books)
"Clever and thought-provoking." (Sue Arnold The Guardian)
"Magnificent . . . Five hundred years ago Pullman would have been burnt at the stake as a heratic. Now his ideas merely set the debate alight." (Nigel Nelson Church of England Newspaper)
"A very bold and deliberately outrageous fable rehearsing Pullman's familiar and passionate fury at corrupt religious systems of control . . . But also introducing something quite different, a voice of genuine spiritual authority. Because that is what Pullman's Jesus undoubtedly is." (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury The Guardian)
"Pullman has a gift for creating scenes that make the reader want to put down the book and say "wow" . . . this is a book that remains in the mind days after the final page has been turned . . . The greatest story ever told has come alive anew." (Adi Bloom The Times Educational Supplement)
"Yes, Pullman has reimagined the story of Jesus. But he has done it in an interestingly respectful and powerful way . . . Pullman injects great humanity and fallibility into the characters of Jesus and Christ. The tale has a strangely compelling blend of clarity and emotional honesty to it." (Nadine O'Regan Sunday Business Post)
"Cool, stark, intelligent . . . a delight." (Reform)
"This is a remarkable book . . . Pullman has certainly risen to the challenge put to him." (Methodist Recorder)
"A small gem or, given its explosive story and exquisite artistry, a hand grenade made by Faberge." (Brian Appleyard Sunday Times)
"Pullman has created a startling, entertaining spin-off tale of the life and death of Jesus that calls into consideration...the foundations of the Catholic Church" (The Prague Post)
Philip Pullman retells the story of Jesus in this explosive addition to Canongate's Myths seriesSee all Product description
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particularly religious, although I was brought up to be. This
story fascinated me.
But the bit I found most interesting was at the end when
the author said why he had written it and his conclusions
from reading 3 different bibles.
If you decide not to finish reading this book, then at least read
what Philip Pullman has written at the very end. It is quite an
It is something different and original but plausible and overly sad. The story is a visionary one retelling the birth, the life and death of Jesus Christ. Imagine: What if Jesus Christ had a twin brother? Or what if his twin brother betrayed him and not Judas Iscariot?
Simply put we are presented with two Almighty people, Jesus who is charismatic but selfish and Christ who broods, a pragmatist and a pessimist who hides away in shame and constantly weeps. He is emotional and very human. He has spent his sad life living in his brother's shadow worshipping him just like all of his followers, trying to protect him from his enemies.
Christ narrates the story and so we are fully aware of his misery and unhappiness as he chronicles his brother's teachings for posterity. The Stranger, an anonymous being whom Christ mistakes as an angel of God tells him that the truth is not the same as history. Jesus was the man the Gospels talked about but Christ was the Messiah featured in the Epistles. Jesus was history and Christ was the truth. In Christ's frustration he asks the Stranger: " I wish, sir, you would tell me what the truth is. My vision clouded, my knowledge lacking."
Pullman poses the million dollar question: if we went back in time would we save Jesus from such a horrible death by crucifixion or let him die just like Judas or Pullman's Christ?
The ending is powerful. Christ has opted for a simple life hidden away when he is discovered. He is disillusioned and knows that history will repeat itself. Jesus and himself have been used as pawns in a dangerous game, a tragic story. He is convinced that the truth about Jesus will continue to be distorted and he will be compromised and betrayed over and over again. And I hear you agreeing.......
If you loved the Dark Materials Trilogy, or if you just have a fascination with religion with book will be a pleasant surprise.
I haven't read Phillip Pullman's prose before and I was impressed how he kept the language much like that of the Bible itself. I knew he was a Humanist and thought it would be interesting how he interprets things.
Once upon a time, a virgin bride of Joseph, the Carpenter, is approached by an "angel" who tells her she will conceive a child. As it happens, two are born, one called Jesus, the other Christ, Greek for Messiah. Jesus always gets into trouble as a child, and Christ usually gets him out of it again. When John the Baptist baptises Jesus, Christ notices a dove fly overhead. Jesus spends his time in the wilderness, and becomes a spokesman for God in his belief that the Kingdom is coming.
Christ wants to Organise, Jesus does not. Pullman raises the issue of organised religion and its place in society. Jesus becomes a nomad, spreading the word of the Kingdom of God and performing "miracles" (for some of which Pullman gives likely explanations). His brother, still wanting to create a church, follows Jesus and writes down his speeches. Sometimes he cannot make it and asks one of the disciples, not named, what had happened and transcribes second hand the events. Again, truth versus history.
The "stranger" comes into Christ's life and takes the transcribed scrolls, and encourages Christ's belief in organising the church. It is not clear who the stranger is. Christ believes him to be an angel. The reader must decide for themselves.
Jesus tells more and more provocative parables and catches the attention of the priests. The stranger tells Christ that Jesus must die in order for the Church to come about. In the meantime, Jesus is praying to God in the Garden of Gethsemane and says he is losing faith, as the Kingdom of God hasn't come. He loves the beauty of the world and wants to believe he is doing the right thing, but also knows he is fighting his brother and his beliefs.
"...I can see just what would happen if that kind of thing came about. The devil would rub his hands with glee. As soon as men who believe they're doing God's will get hold of power, whether its a household or a village...the devil enters into them." "Lord if you are listening, I'd pray for this above all; that any church set up in your name should remain poor, and powerless, and modest. That should wield no authority except that of love."
In the end Christ fills the "Judas" role, and turns Jesus over to the priests who turn him over to Pilate. Christ does this in the belief that the stories will turn into legend after Jesus dies. The "stranger" encourages him. Jesus dies on the cross. Christ is walking through the tomb garden and Mary mistakes him for his brother, which is Pullman's explanations for the Resurrection.
The Good Man Jesus...is thoroughly researched, and Pullman knows his Bible. It tells us that history and truth are not the same thing, the "miracles" may be fantastical exaggerations from third parties to promote Jesus' public relations profile. It raises debate over the power of the Christian church, its riches, and it power to extract more riches from the believing poor. It tells us about power to corrupt, and keep people in line. Now, in British life, we are becoming more and more secular, and control of the populace is more challenging. More than anything, at the time that Jesus and Christ were alive, the Romans were oppressing the Jews in Palestine and at a time of hardship and erosion of traditions and religion, the people needed something to believe in. The biggest story of them all was turned into a worldwide belief system.
It's a short read, I finished it in a day, and although the book was thought-provoking, it wasn't entirely attention grabbing. Having said that, as Christianity is now, in my view, fighting to hold onto its believers in an age of science and reason, it's a book to ponder on.
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