Philip Pullman has opened the proverbial can of worms with his version of the life of Jesus. In his retelling, Mary gave birth to twins. Jesus is outgoing, charismatic, and humanist (and in this book somewhat annoying), while Christ is more reserved and analytical, devoting himself to picking up the pieces when his brother makes mistakes, and to chronicling his words and actions. There is little narrative tension or suspense, as the outcome is preordained. Well versed in the New Testament, Pullman sticks to the details presented in the gospels. But he leaves himself open to acrimony in his interpretation of events, as told by the brother Christ.
At heart, this short book is a critique of organized religion and the uses that the powerful make of simple facts. What is truth? Pullman demonstrates how the urge to make a story more influential leads writers to embellish, the better to attract and manipulate followers. His interpretation of some of the famous miracles, such as that of the loaves and fishes, demonstrates how a little spin can change meaning and purpose. Pullman is not the first to examine what is known about the resurrection. He does not argue that the teachings of the historical Jesus are flawed.
Ostensibly, this is a book for adults who can scrutinize and evaluate ideals. While the message is clear, however, the prose is irritatingly simplistic, marring an otherwise worthy theme.
Having not read any of Philip Pullman's previous works, I didn't go into this with any particular expectations, but I have to say that my mind was blown by how much I enjoyed it. The news surrounding this has drawn criticism from many Christians claiming this book is blasphemous and even some fundamentalists sending the author hate mail. In fact I got quite the opposite impression from this book and although this hasn't been the first attack against Christianity that Pullman has waged in his writing, … more
"Jesus, in his purity, is asking too much of people" (p. 167, "The Stranger Tells Christ What Part He Must Play"). Says who? Says Christ. Who is Christ? In the novel by Philip Pullman Christ (meaning Messiah) is the younger almost identical twin brother of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is healthy, vigorous, has learned the carpenter's trade from his father Joseph, talks straight talk, pulls no punches and expects the coming of … more
After 21 years as a school psychologist, I now work part-time at two local historical museums, giving tours and teaching special programs. This leaves me more time to enjoy my little grandchildren, and … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.