In this ingenious and spellbinding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told.
Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the listener questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned. Above all, this book is about how stories become stories.
Read by the author.
©2010 Philip Pullman (P)2010 Canongate Audiobooks
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"a beautiful tale"
Philip Pullman tells his story with a simplicity of writing style that is at first a little surprising, although the later eloquence in some of the dialogue (one late passage in particular) did move me nearly to tears.
I have no particular view on the historical realism of Jesus, although I do not believe he had such a brother as is described here. As far as I'm aware Philip Pullman isn't asserting that he did, this book is pure fiction and should be approached as such.
It retells familiar tales and it's interesting to see how he works them in to his narrative of brotherly lives lived in tandem and historical 'correction.'
It actually takes a surprisingly balanced view on the legacy of Jesus and the role of faith. I hope it challenges the perceptions of others as it did mine, and even if it does not its merits in literary style and emotionally involving characters will hoperfully prove engaging.
The narrator goes from a straightforward reading to empassioned as the tale goes on, and my initial wariness of the author reading his own work was quickly overcome.
In short, I recommend it unreservedly.
"There are better Jesus books"
I like Philip Pullman but this one enters a pretty crowded market place: "The Last Temptation of Christ", "The Gospel According to the Son", "Her Story", "King Jesus", to name but a few. The authors seem to want to set out a retelling of the christian gospel to grind their own axe about Jesus and the way his message has been shaped by the distortions of the evangelists and the church in general. Pullman is of course a famous clergy-baiter, so you can see why he would want to jump on the bandwagon.
All the scenes in TGMJATSC are familiar of course, and I was left just waiting for it to be over. Funnily enough, I really really liked the last sentence.
If you are thinking of reading this, stop. Read "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ" by Jose Saramago instead because it's by far the best example of the subgenre.
"A interesting way to highlight myth..."
A interesting way to highlight myth... by writing one yourself.
The first line of Philip Pullman?s novel reads:
"This is the story of Jesus and his brother Christ, of how they were born, how they lived and how one of them died."
Despite the use of the definite ?the? in the first line of Philip Pullman?s new novel, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, it is not actually claiming to be the real back-story of the influential spiritual leader. Rather it is a telling of a myth; a fable. And in doing so makes us face what the story of Jesus really means. All stories of the Gods are the sub?ject of myth and they all have within them the patterns that stretch directly into the mind and subconscious. As with other tales of half remembered, but not forgotten, ancient wis?dom, the story of Jesus has meaning beyond the telling. His is the hero?s story told again and again through the ages, and its lessons are to be read and dwelt upon over many tellings. So, as he steps though the doors of his life ? the fore told stages of his journey ? we step with him and arrive on the other side together.
Pullman has written an excellent book and one I recommend. It is import ant to be able to step along the hero?s journey and understand the ever repeated rhythms within it. Whether it is the ancient story of the Minotaur, the modern tale of the Sky walker or the encom?passing mono myth of Jesus, the story goes on and will be retold in the same forms forever. I don?t think Pullman has a problem with that, his is a problem with what we listen?ers then go and do after hearing the story. We forget the point is to transcend the tale and grow spiritually along with it. As the Buddha said of his teachings ? that it is a boat to cross a river ? once to the other side you no longer need the boat.
A clever reworking of the bible story. It is bound to offend the most ardent of Christians, but is equally as plausibe as an explanation of the bible story. As with all of Philip Pullman's work, it is thought provoking. Enjoy and think; Enjoy and throw away; or do not read. Do not take too seriously.
Misleadingly simple retelling of the story of Jesus Christ. Pullman presents the telling of the story as obeying the norms of the genre with its motifs and literary devices. Just as today we recognise a fairy tale genre with the words ‘Once upon a time …” the story of a Messiah must be accompanied by miracles and wonders. These miracles are figurative – simply literal devices commonly used and understood to indicate that the subject of the book is a Messiah.
Bearing in mind the disillusionment many catholics feel with their church today – Pullman leaves us to ponder which is better “ to aim for absolute purity and fail altogether, or to compromise and succeed a little?”
"Exploring faith, myths and real politik"
It is, of course, The Greatest Story Ever Told, which has probably been re-examined more often than anything. This time, a simple but effective device is employed to allow a separation, in real time, of the inspirational life of a man and how that was used and twisted for political ends.
Pullman has explored aspects of faith and how humanity uses religion for power before, most famously in His Dark Materials. This time, he keeps close to the best known elements of the story of Jesus Christ from the Bible, but separates the Good News from early signs that it will be used and abused over the centuries that follow. I hope there is much here to provoke fresh thinking and debate for both believers and non-believers - and not just of the Christian faith because the basic arguments of how an initial truth gets distorted by time and deliberate re-writing can be applied much more widely.
But is it a good listen? I find Pullman's reading style a bit problematic. His tone of voice can feel as though he is talking down to his audience. Those familiar with the story of Jesus will find it easy to follow and will not struggle to see the points of direct contact and ironies that Pullman explores. It could be a useful vehicle for group discussion, but I somehow doubt many people will find it truly engaging - hence my rating.
This is a very strange book. It is quite short, and most of it is basically passages from the New Testament with the speech and language colloquialised as if it was 20th century. If like me you grew up with these stories it is difficult to find much new in them. The premise that Jesus had a twin called Christ is the obvious thought-provoking 'twist'. I know of no evidence that this was true. The implication all through that angels are really humans and miracles not real is hardly new. If it is meant to be 'the New Testament for modern kids' it might work - but then why the twin brother? If it is meant to get adults thinking then the writing style seems somehow inappropriate. It's as if he was trying to do two things at once and in my view not quite succeeding in either of them. Maybe I just have not thought about it deeply enough, or discussed it at a book club, and have missed the point. But as an avid Pullman devotee I felt a little cheated, and did not enjoy it nearly as much as I had hoped.
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