The Tongues of Men or Angels Paperback – 5 Feb 2015
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a committed attempt to compare the harsh reality of Jesus's life with the embroidered versions that spread following his death... This is a story that invents in order to see through invention (the Independent on Sunday)
Trigell's fourth novel is a high-octane take on the post-Crucifixion schism that emerged between Judaism and Christianity amid the brutality of Roman rule. Written with an inventive wit and verve, this is an impressive distillation of the Christian myth in the earthy poetry of the everyday vernacular; his portrayal of the Crucifixion is particularly visceral... a bravura and original performance. (the Mail on Sunday)
The Tongues of Men or Angels is Jonathan Trigell's bold attempt at an ironic, modern retelling of the events surrounding the crucifixion and Paul's subsequent evangelising of his version of Jesus's message ... an ingeniously structured, lively narrative of the birth of Christianity. (The Sunday Times)
Trigell's version is ingenious and riveting. He is brilliant in his recreation of the visceral baseness of being human; this is a Judea mired in dung and blood and superstition. (The Times)
Trigell has researched his subject thoroughly and fairly, and is able to reinterpret events in an interesting light... a lively, engaging, ambitious, nuanced and thought-provoking novel (The Work Shy Fop)
The settings and events are described in such muscular yet sensuous language that you almost feel you're there. (The Historical Novel Society)
This daring novel tells the story of Jesus and his followers in the years leading up to and following the Crucifixion. Trigell's interpretation of the origins of Christianity, particularly the factional struggle between the disciple Cephas (Peter) and the convert Saul (Paul), will spark controversy, but there's no denying the raw power of the writing. (Mail on Sunday, paperbacks of the week)
Trigell is a very good writer - and also knows his text inside out. This really helps, because it gives him a very rich support cast: Philemon's slave is a fictional triumph, really well fleshed out from the scanty available evidence... It underpins what must be Trigell's greatest achievement: he has created a Saul/Paul (with back-story, complexity, real psychological depth) who might actually have written the epistles - welding that extraordinary mixture of commitment, self-righteousness, touchy insecurity, surprising moments of sweetness, and mystical passion into a single coherent character. (Church Times)
This ambitious book by Jonathan Trigell captures the battle for the soul of the early church ... the best of it ranges from thought-provoking to stunning. Trigell is superb on capturing the blood, dung and superstition of Judea in the 1st century AD. (The Times) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Who was the man we know as Jesus? In The Tongues of Men or Angels, award-winning Jonathan Trigell performs an act of literary resurrection.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Since we know so very little of events that led to Christianity assuming its modern form a historical novel can have a great deal of fun seeking to join what few dots we have. Trigell is clearly not a fan of Paul, dropping very large hints about the Jesus:Attis and Jesus:Mithras similarities (though Mithras seems a bit early for a young Saul). His view of the Sanhedrin is much more positive than often is the case, and Pilate makes a swift and effective appearance in a Mel Gibson description of the Passion. I suspect many modern readers will lack the knowledge of the authorised version and thus miss the subversion practicised by the author.
The politics of the time and region, and of Christianity itself, are given prominence, raising questions (again) of whose story, and what’s at stake in such storytelling, is to take historical prominence – a theme that was also productively explored in Naomi Alderman’s The Liars’ Gospel (2012).
The characterisation is not always particularly subtle or complex and this is less controversial than Toibin’s The Testament of Mary – all the same, this is worth reading.
(I received a review copy via Netgalley)
Also a little offputting is the switching between modern and semi ancient language, but again I got used to that.
Certainly worth a read, but could have been better.
This is the story of the – often painful – birth of Christianity, told from the point of view of a host of characters and ranging in time from twenty years before the crucifixion to sixty two years afterwards. Characters range from the central ones of Yeshua (Jesus) himself, Cephas “the rock” (Peter) and Saul (Paul) to runaway slaves, bored noblewomen and Pontius Pilate. Useful is a runaway slave who is urged by Paul to write his story and, indeed, much of his life will be known to us. Yet, the author takes history and helps make it feel as though we are there. From the dirt and dust on the roads, to the way purple dye is manufactured, to snobbery and status, the divisions between the poor and rich, there is a real glimpse of this long ago world and what mattered to the people who lived then.
Much of this book deals with the divisions between Peter and Paul; particularly the way that Paul feels his vision of the faith if the true one. Of course, we have Paul’s famous conversion on the way to Damascus, compared to Peter being a disciple who actually knew Jesus, the man. Interestingly, although Jesus himself is central to the story – the whole book hinges on the crucifixion itself – it is other peoples interpretations of him and his message which drives the story on. Peter was obviously compelled to leave everything to follow Jesus, but his return to a group of baleful, hungry children and a mournful wife, helps show the reality of what was asked of the disciples. Likewise, did Paul’s personal resentments and circumstances cause him to be welcoming of change or were the voices he heard simply delusions? This will be a controversial novel I feel.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A well known story but bought to life in a new and believable way. Suddenly the saints and sinners area normal men.
Read it and enjoy.
This is stunningly good. It opens your mind to ideas in a way that has not happened too often. Buy it and read.Published 12 months ago by R. J. Bulow
I found the shift in time of chapters confusing initially but well told and ultimately highly satisfying. Strongly recommended even if revolutionary.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer