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, I got the impression that he wanted to handle this with a bit more care.
The story focuses around Jesus and his twin brother Christ and follows them as they grow up, depicting Christ as the true follower of his brother Jesus documenting everything he says and every miracle he performs so as to retain in history the story of this great man. However, a stranger approaches Christ with promises of helping retain this glorious documentation of the life of Jesus and the good work he has done. However, this help turns out not to be as straightforward as Christ is first lead to believe as the story of Jesus will be manipulated in favour of creating an image of the kingdom of God on Earth to lead the people to do good to their fellow man.
I can understand how Christians may see it as just another mainstream attack on the church as it certainly depicts the idea that the church is a result of a manipulation of history and proposes that Jesus may not be as perfect a man as he is depicted in the Bible. But to say that this is outright blasphemy is, in my eyes, wrong. When an individual looks at history, they will plainly see that throughout there has been a continuous manipulation of the documents that formed the bible and the catholic church as a whole. To imply that the Catholic church is free from corruption and anything that suggests otherwise is also misleading and I think Pullman is simply putting across the idea in this book, that things such as this should never be taken at face value.
The characters are well rounded in their own part. Jesus is the mischievous child who grows into the loving, but sometimes temperamental individual, whilst his brother Christ comes across as the naive man who has always wanted to do good but is driven to betrayal and sin through his own self pity and distaste at the way some perceive his brother as somewhat of a trouble maker. This is a terrific read that I found to be both enlightening and thought provoking and one that I would highly recommend.
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, … 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
Currently studying Law at University, my main interests revolve around Politics. I read quite a lot and love learning about History. Not just the history of a specific time, place and person, but I'm … more
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