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The Gospel According To Jesus Christ (Panther) Paperback – 2 Sep 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (2 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860466842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860466847
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Profound and poignant" (Independent)

Book Description

A reissue of Saramago's fictionalized account of the life of Jesus

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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By A Customer on 14 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a magnificent novel, worthy of comparison with that other great Jesus novel, Kazantzakis' "The Last Temptation". Saramago's theme is fairly common, one that has worried theologians for centuries: how can a loving god permit so much evil and suffering to exist in the world? The real villain of the book is not the devil, who seems almost sympathetic, a reluctant accomplice in the divine scheme, but the old testament Jehovah, a tyrant willing to sacrifice no end of martyrs, beginning with his own son, to achieve his ends. Saramago has faith in the goodness of people, perhaps indicative of his communist sympathies; there are several instances in the narrative where strangers come to the aid of the young Jesus as he goes in search of his ancestry and his destiny; he is sympathetic too with Joseph, whose guilt about not warning the parents of the murdered innocents results in an untimely death. All but the most liberal Christians will be offended by this book, and many will dismiss it as a communist indictment of religion. If, however, you can accept the book's didactic purpose, its passionate disavowal of the idea that there is any kind of divine grace or love, you will be enchanted by Saramago's wordy, often unpunctuated style, his wry, ironical tone, and his brilliant weaving of realist and mythical elements, complete with lengthy "evangelical" glosses. The best novel I have read since "One Hundred Years Of Solitude".
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Format: Paperback
This book draws your attention the minute you start reading the first few pages, a description of a medieval painting of a crucifixion scene. From thereon, you are embroiled in a clever mixture of fiction and biblical myth, masterfully conjoining a beautiful story with shards proferred by the gospels.
Saramago has developed a velvet like way of writing which is often difficult to read over prolonged periods. The absence of standard punctuation and paragraphs make it reminiscent of Beckett, and his use of language is comparable to that other winner of the Nobel prize. Read this book just for its beautiful descriptive passages, the delicate love story, the distrust of power and its groundedness in humanity.
It will linger with you for months after.
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By A Customer on 15 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
Despite being slightly put off by the title, I was pleasantly surprised with Saramago's fascinating twist on the life of Jesus Christ. Not only is the book written in a poetic and graceful style which makes the reader glued to each page, but his interpretation of Jesus' life forces one to think and rethink their own values.
Whether or not you are religious is irrelevant when reading this book as it is a wonderful read - due to Saramago's excellence in story telling and painting a picture through words.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to readers looking for a wonderfully written book about a subject that may not have previously interested readers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
MUCH TO DISOCOVER IN THIS BOOK DESPITE THE FEW SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.

The word Gospel (and also Evangelho, in Saramago’s original Portuguese title) means “good news”; but there is no good news in this story of Jesus Christ according to the atheist José Saramago.

For the first seventy pages or so out of 350, he sticks reasonably close to the Biblical accounts, but filling the story out: for instance by describing in some detail the story of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census; or by dropping in well-researched details, for instance of the lay-out of the Temple or the way that men (like Joseph) normally treated their wives (like Mary). But Saramago also takes quite a few liberties with the Gospels, such as having a mysterious beggar rather than the archangel Gabriel making the Annunciation. But in the first few chapters of the book these liberties are not subversive of the Gospel story in any profound sense.

Every now and then, Saramago addresses the reader directly, sometimes telling him what he (the author) is doing; at other times with sardonical observations like asking how God could be pleased with the disgusting scenes and stenches as animals were sacrificed to him at the Temple - the revulsion against sacrifices is one of the recurring themes of the book.

The first significant departure from the Gospels relates to the Massacre of the Innocents. What is not so important is how Joseph learns of the impending massacre - though this is not in the way told in Matthew’s Gospel; but rather the guilt that fell on Joseph and - by extension (so it was told) on his baby son - for having done nothing to warn the parents in Bethlehem of what he had learnt. From now on, invented narratives follow thick and fast.
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Format: Paperback
`TGATJC' is Saramago's retelling of the story of Jesus. It is broadly based on the gospels of the New Testament of the Christian bible, but Saramago invents new scenes and re-interprets existing ones. In the book, the characters of the New Testament are presented as being ordinary human beings caught in extraordinary events. Christian tradition teaches that Joseph, Jesus and Mary were all people, but they are usually portrayed as having the aspects of saints and saviours. `TGATJC' asks the question: what would the events of the gospels look like if told by, and about, human beings. The book concentrates largely on Jesus' relationship with his family, and his parents in particular.

Saramago doesn't set out to shock, and despite the opportunity for contraversialism, actually paints a relatively respectful picture of Jesus' family. Their human aspects are emphasised though, and the book begins with an earthy description of Joseph urinating before having sex with Mary, and her birth pains are graphically described. Jesus too is portrayed as having a very human nature: fallible, often confused and sexually active. I didn't find it remotely shocking, and actually thought it to be a touching and realistic portrait of a family. What may be more controversial is Saramago's portrait of God, who is portrayed very much as he appears in the Old Testament (i.e. how people of Jesus' time would have conceived of God). Saramago's God is jealous and power hungry. His battle isn't with the Devil, but with other Gods over the belief of mankind. Jesus' death is part of his quest for power and the devil, rather than an enemy, is an uneasy ally, because one cannot exist without the other. This God is very much the pre-Christian conceptualisation of God, one which the people of Jesus' era would have recognised.
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