The Gospel According To Jesus Christ (Panther) Paperback – 2 Sep 1999
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"Profound and poignant" (Independent)
A reissue of Saramago's fictionalized account of the life of JesusSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a must-read. a well-crafted fiction, fabricated just like all the rest!Published 29 days ago by Oded Sharon
needed to reveal that religion is superstition. I liked the writing style as much as the content and the message. Husky recommended read.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A very cleverly written take on the life of Jesus and those closest to him including his mother Mary and father Joseph. Read morePublished 3 months ago by samr1975
Fascinating book by one of Portugal's finest writers of the 20th C.Published 12 months ago by MR LINKS
I don't know much about the bible, but really enjoyed reading this. I guess if you're religious it might be challenging to the bible's account of what happened and a bit... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mrs Nicola J Elliott