The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

June 6, 2010 § 18 Comments

And remember this: take the hard road, not the easy one. The road that leads to life is a hard one, and it passes through a narrow gate, but the road to destruction is easy, and the gate is broad.

This post has been a long time coming. I read this book about a month ago, and it isn’t until today that I’ve finally gotten the chance to really sit down and pen my thoughts on this book.

This book has gotten so much publicity already, I don’t think there would be that many people who don’t know what the gist of this book is. But even if you didn’t, Pullman tells you right from the beginning:

This is the story of Jesus and his brother Christ, of how they were born, of how they lived and of how one of them died.

Being part of the Myths Series, Pullman attempts to tell us his interpretation of the story of Jesus, his life, and perhaps, in a way, what he left behind for mankind. It’s been called controversial, as are all things even slightly related to religion, what more a story that tells a different version of what has been accepted as the official version.

Not being a Christian, I know only a little of Jesus’s story. What this book did for me, was not inform me of his life, or give me a second opinion, a different interpretation of what I’ve already heard. Rather, it told me that everything is possible, that there are worlds to discover if we are willing to keep our minds open and our hearts receptive.

The story is a simple one, written in some of the most simple sentences and phrases. Indeed, the language of the book reminded me of fables, of fairy tales told to children, where the prose is purposely kept at its most basic. There was no need for flowery vocabulary; the plot and the story itself was enough to provoke the imagination. The simpleness is deceptive: there seems to be a multitude of layered meanings hidden within, revealed only if you search hard enough.

I was really excited about reading this book, because I had fallen in love with His Dark Materials. I had expected this book to be somewhat like the trilogy. Instead, what I got was a brutal tale of faith and betrayal, told with the kind of honesty that feels both innocent and unyielding at the same time. It is a story about how stories are made, about how stories become legends, about how one things could change into another with just a little change of words.

Rating: 4.5

*

My thanks to Ms Novak from Text Publishing for sending me this book.

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§ 18 Responses to The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

  • Nymeth says:

    It isn’t nearly as simple a book as it might first appear, I agree. It’s been months since I’ve read it, but I’m not done thinking about it.

    PS: It’s good to hear from you, Michelle!

    • Michelle says:

      It’s only the writing that seems simple, really. The ideas behind the story are anything but.

      PS: It’s good to be blogging again. =)

  • Mark David says:

    Hey, glad to see you back! 🙂

  • chasing bawa says:

    Hello! Nice to see you around again. This book definitely made me think a lot more about the nature and power of religion. Pullman’s prose also fitted the story he told and made me want to read the Bible. Also as someone who isn’t religious what I got out of the book is probably very different from what others may have.

    • Michelle says:

      That’s what I was thinking too. I wonder what interpretation someone religious would have of the book, as compared to my own.

  • Chris says:

    I agree with everyone above!! Good to see a post here 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this one and I certainly agree with you…you can think about this one for awhile. I really enjoyed it too and it’s stuck with me. Great review!

  • mee says:

    The concept is indeed intriguing. I’ll maybe read it when the hype has died down a little.

    • Michelle says:

      I think it’s a good idea to read it a little later. For me, because I received it from the publisher, and also because I was so excited about it myself, I couldn’t wait. So I purposely kept away from all the reviews of the book that have been posted so far!

  • savidgereads says:

    Hoorah, its good to see you back! I read this and really enjoyed it which I didn’t think I was going to. It read like a wonderful fable and made me remember how good some of the bible stories can be.

    • Michelle says:

      It’s good to be back Simon. I agree with you, some bible stories can be very very good. In fact, I find I love reading bible stories sometimes, just that I don’t know where to start looking!

  • I’ve been meaning to read this book since I heard of it. The new David Mitchell jumped ahead in the queue though, and I’m resigned to waiting for the paperback of this one.

    Thanks for the review – makes me want to read it soon!!

    • Michelle says:

      I hope you’ll enjoy the book. It’s a thought provoking one, so I get the feeling you might like it.

      I’m really itching to read a David Mitchell now, but the libraries back here are just not as well-supplied as the ones in NZ..

  • Suko says:

    Wow! Great review. You make me really want to read this, as well as His Dark Materials.

  • Annabel says:

    I agree it was deceptively simple, but multi-layered underneath and I loved this book, glad you enjoyed it too.

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