Tosches' version of the Christ narrative, "discovered" with the help of a Vatican priest-scholar under Roman princeps Tiberius' tomb, has Jesus and Roman speech-writer Gaius conspiring to take advantage of the religious climate of the times (full of prophets claiming divine revelations) for the purposes of bilking believers out of their money and amassing a fortune for themselves. However, their sophistry and false prophetic acts acquire a degree of truth and reveal much about the nature of religion for the pair, and it seems they do have a genuine message to convey - that all gods are given birth by human minds, and that self-knowledge is the only authentic religiosity because it examines these mechanisms of perception and creation. In the end, the message is meant for Gaius' grandson, who would have received the manuscript posthumously from his grandfather. As always, Tosches is incredibly insightful, witty, and a pleasure to read, even while coming across as an ardent pessimist regarding much of human nature and religion.
Tosches ventures into the world of historical fiction here, presenting an alternative Jesus narrative. If Dan Brown were a great writer and had more accurate information concerning the early Christians, he might have produced this book. The narrative conceit is of an author who discovers a long-lost manuscript in the Vatican archives, which turns out to be a confessional letter written by a Roman patrician to his young grandson in which it is revealed that Jesus Christ was the product of an elaborate long con. The overwhelming bulk of the book is cast as a translation of that discovered Latin letter.
There will be much here to offend those who have personal investment in the Christian tradition, but there is also much that reflects and reinforces some central elements of the tradition. Tosches's Jesus is predicate in large measure on the Gnostic Gospels discovered in Nag Hammadi and, as such, serves to bring forward the figure of Jesus as imagined by certain early Christian communities. The conceit of the book--that this is the "real" Jesus who has been suppressed or ignored over the centuries--turns out to be true, if perhaps only loosely. But beyond this, the narrative culminates as a tragic story of men driven by forces beyond their control and understanding, one a simple man meeting a gruesome and undeserved death because of the lies and deceits of others and another on his death bed wracked with guilt for his culpability in that death and with no hope of atonement.
By no means can Tosches be considered a Christian or even as one necessarily sympathetic to religion, but in this exploration of human depravity and failure (his favorite topic) he has, perhaps inadvertently, presented a story that plumbs depths similar to the works of the great theologians.
A creative take on NT Christian mythology, Nick Tosches' well-written novel is peppered with interesting insights into human nature, politics and existentialism. The last three paragraphs are worth the price of admission and deserve to be engraved in marble. Some may choose to be offended by the realistic portrayal of Jesus, but I think the character Tosches has developed is sympathetic and very human. By the end I found myself caring for him and was sorry to see him go (spoiler alert: his life does not end well!). Ultimately this is a book that will make you think about the people behind the making of a messiah and exactly what it is that becomes the stuff of legends.
Interesting read. First heard about this in an interview with the author on NPR a few days before the release. Got it the day of release on my Kindle app. Very glad I read it on the Kindle as I was constantly looking up some very obscure words! A nice touch on the Jesus story. Jesus as a wastrel who is befriended by the ex speech writer for the emperor Tiberius. Written as a first person account by the speech writer in a letter to his grandson in the late 1st century A.D. I'm sure many will find it quite blasphemous as it portrays the two men as con men in the Messiah business only in it for the money. Nicely written, but no real surprises other than the original plot device. Does contain some thoughtful musings on the nature of God and Man.
Nick Tosches is a son of a bitch and a blasphemous bastard! But he is a great great writer. His prose carries you along and is very poetic. Vulgar, violent and realistic. He is a truly great artist and writer. The Jesus presented starts out a cad and then becomes quite hopeful. At the end of the book, Nick leaves it open as to whether he is the messiah or just a fraud. Giant Gnostic themes and politically and historically accurate. I am going to read his other books and just downloaded Dante's inferno as this seems to be a theme of his. You Bastard Nick!
Nick Tosches is an exceptional thinker writing great stuff on the other side of the coin. Makes me know that what's taught of history is only that which vested interests want me to believe. Anyone who believes history books without making acute investigations of their own is a fool. Tosches brings this timeless truth to the reader.
Given the tenor of world and biblical history books, or the US Congress for example, it's easy to see that truth has little to do with belief, unless it's also convenient. The Bible was the original huckster guide for Madison Avenue.
The West, Democracy, and Free People need more thinkers/writers like Nick Tosches.
As a former evangelical Christian (now an atheist to the Judeo Christian god of the Bible) it has been a long long time since I had visited the concept of the story of Jesus. This book brought it to life for me again in fascinating ways. Though this book is admittedly fiction it represents the most plausible telling of the story of Jesus that I've ever come across. The connection between the two main characters is intense. The book highlights how rumor is spread, exaggerated and made into lore. Fantastic read. Can't say enough good things.