Customer Reviews for

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

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  • Posted July 11, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Christ "spins," prettifies his twin brother Jesus

    Worth noting at once, THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST is a novel. It is not scholarly or particularly theological. It is fiction, drawing loosely on Christian canonical and apocryphal scriptures. That said, it is imaginative, creative and rapidly retells (and spins) highlights of what early Christian writers had to say about the founder of their religion. *****

    At some level this novel is a game of "what if." I have played it myself. What if the rich young man who had walked away sadly rather than sell all his goods to the poor -- what if he had come back to Jesus (see Mark 10: 17 -22)? In Athens, Saint Paul spoke before crowds and persuaded some that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ). Presumably, others were NOT convinced. But did they remain unconvinced? "What if" speculation on sacred texts can, at its best, be a healthy form of contemplation, I submit. *****

    Author Philip Pullman, let me suggest, rethinks scriptures to make them solve certain problems he has with organized Christianity and to unload some of his dislikes. Pullman, through the mouth of Jesus, has harsh things to say about "church." A mysterious stranger, who Jesus's twin brother Christ thinks is an angel, pressures Christ to chronicle Jesus's words and deeds and to create a church to preserve the memory of both Jesus and Christ. If the two brothers are remembered, confused as if one person, and if the composite Jesus Christ is believed to have risen from the dead, then it will take an organized group of true believers -- a church -- to do the necessary. *****

    The novel rapidly reviews highlights of the life of Jesus as recorded by early Christians, both orthodox and gnostic. Jesus, like John the Baptist, is virile, a straight shooter, who tells it like it is: repent and get ready, the Kingdom is about to arrive. Brother Christ is weakly, imaginative, ultra-cautious and slowly persuaded to prettify Jesus's message of loving thy neighbor and foresaking wealth and family to follow Jesus. *****

    Much of the fun of reading this novel is to realize that your interpretation of what author Pullman wants readers to believe is likely different from mine. To me, the mysterious Stranger who manipulates Christ is Satan. Either God does not exist in this novel, or He has turned our world over to devils. The preaching of Jesus is mildly frightening to Satan. But if he can persuade Christ to channel Jesus's visions, commands and energy into safer channels -- scriptures, Church, rituals, garments, worldly power, then Satan will remain top dog, so far as we mortals are concerned. A clever piece of imagination, this novel. Wise? I leave that to other readers to judge. -OOO-

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2010

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    Falls Short

    Part of the allure of this story is the notion of a straightforward, human explanation of how Christian mythology might have been born. Instead, Mr Pullman weaves an unsatisfying fabric of everyday events together with selected mystical elements carried over from the Christian tradition. The book is a quick, enjoyable read, but you might find yourself wanting a bit more by the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2011

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    Thought provoking.

    Pullman "retells' the basic Gospel story with some very interesting twists. Somewhat akin to Maquire's "retelling" of the Wizard of Oz, Pullman provokes a deep consideration of the interplay between actual events and the historical record. In doing so, Pullamn challenges what Gospel is in the midst of real, human life. An excellent book for personal reflection or group discussion. Highly recommended.

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