This gospel retelling is relatively faithful in style, time line, and events to the four canonical gospels-though Pullman injects a very Pullman-like spin on it by splitting Jesus Christ into two men, among other creative twists. Twin babies are born of the virgin Mary, one called Jesus, the other Christ. After a childhood in which Christ is a goody-goody and Jesus the popular one, Jesus and Christ continue down separate but intertwined paths, with Christ sneaking around, spying on Jesus's ministry and writing down his every word and deed. Jesus becomes a philosopher-revolutionary and Christ is the politically savvy brother, who ultimately proves naïve. Pullman's gospel version reveals how the politics and structure of the institutional church were plotted by power-hungry men, who used the renown of Jesus and his well-meaning, devoted brother Christ as pawns in their corrupt game-a critique that will be familiar to readers of His Dark Materials. This is a tale of (almost comedic) mistaken identity and good intentions gone horribly awry. Readers will find the parables, the Good Samaritan, healings, and the Sermon on the Mount, among other familiar scenes.
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A supreme storyteller . . . Pullman has done the story a service by reminding us of its extraordinary power to provoke and disturb
Pullman nimbly presents this as a contrast between historical veracity and the bon mot that can take root in the popular imagination. He implies that Christ's true achievement was to put a spin on Jesus's story, adding elements of mystery and poetry to an otherwise prosaic tale
Financial Times - James Urquhart
Beautifully effective . . . Pullman's retelling of the central story in western civilisation provides a brilliant new interpretation that is also a thought-provoking reflection on the process of how stories come into existence and accrue their meanings
Sunday Times - Nick Rennison
A fierce and beautiful book which . . . will move even those who disagree with it
A writer of great skill and feeling
It is a small gem or, given its explosive story and its exquisite artistry, a hand grenade made by Faberg
Beautifully written, humane, memorable and resonant
The charm of this book lies in its seriousness about the story it tells, and about its being a story
Pullman at his very best
Provokingly bold . . . striking and suggestive
Independent - Boyd Tonkin
Inspiring . . . Again and again, [Pullman] displays a marvelous sense of the elemental power of Jesus’s instructions and parables. Even when he transforms the canonical stories to match his atheist perspective, he emphasizes the basic Christian theme of universal love. . . . The action moves toward a conclusion that’s inevitable but still startling and moving. Yes, some Christians will be offended by this book . . . but any honest reader will find here a brisk and bracing story of profound implications. And it’s bound to send some readers back to the Bible, looking more closely at Jesus’s words and especially at all those other words crowded around Him.”
The Washington Post “[Philip Pullman is] one of the finest British writers of his generation. . . . The attention-grabbing title alone The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christhas been enough to rouse his enemies, and reinforce his image as a church-baiting atheist who’s beyond redemption. . . . Yet this isn’t the indiscriminate anger of a proselytizing atheist. Pullman is too fair-minded. . . . Love his answers or not, Pullman’s honesty is hard to hate.” Newsweek “The erudite fantasy author, Philip Pullman, makes explicit his complaint against Christian dogma with [this] challenging deconstruction of the Gospels.” Entertainment Weekly “[With] His Dark Materials, his masterpiece trilogy . . . Pullman has written the most thrilling and imaginative novels in a generation. . . . The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a masterfully timed book, arriving just as the Catholic ChurchPullman’s enemy No. 1convulses over priestly child abuse and papal cover-ups. . . . Give Pullman high marks for moxie: How many writers would dare to try to rewriteno, to repairthe most famous, most sacred story ever written?” Slate “Imaginative and thought-provoking . . . A compelling portrait of Jesus . . . [Pullman] is asking readers to move beyond theology and religion. As a literary work, Pullman’s story examines perspective and how it influences storytelling. [He] provides a superb example of how history relies on narrative and narrative relies on point of view. . . . This is, at its core, a book about the power of storytelling and storytellers. . . . The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ asks us to read and then to thinkreally thinkabout what we have read, and that is precisely what we all should do.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram “Thought-provoking . . . Add to [Pullman’s] passion his considerable gifts as a storyteller, and you have the ingredients for a powerful treatment of a familiar story. . . . There is no lack of . . . inventiveness . . . but it is always framed by Pullman’s keen awareness of the gospel narratives. He knows just how much of a revered story needs to remain intact in order to make its metamorphosis compelling. . . . Pullman gives us an affecting portrait of faith in extremis, of a man continuing to pray even as he doubts there is any auditor to his prayers.”Garret Keizer, Barnes & Noble Reviews “Compelling and challenging . . . The writing is crisp-lyrical . . . precise . . . Successful in showing how all the contradictions of a life can become distorted, so that the most important lessons disappear into history.”Jacob Schraer, Portland Mercury “ In The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, we have what is both a perfect and perverse pairing: Philip Pullman and the ‘myth’ of Jesus Christ.” The Globe and Mail “Incendiary . . . A small gem or, given its explosive story and exquisite artistry, a hand grenade made by Faberge. Pullman is a craftsman of the highest order.” Sunday Times “Provokingly bold . . . Pullman’s rebel scripture belongs in a strong tradition of its own.” The Independent “Pullman is a supreme storyteller who . . . has done the story [of the Gospels] a service by reminding us of its extraordinary power to provoke and disturb.” The Telegraph “A wonderfully fresh reworking of the Gospel stories [concerned with] extricating what is ethically beautiful and of permanent value in Jesus’s teachings from the religious institutions that fallibly mediate and self-servingly distort them.. . . . Pullman’s imaginative and highly thought-provoking innovation . . . is told with a self-effacing, yet incisive limpidity. . . . [ The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is] a work of genuine discretiondeeply involved and involving, but with a great instinct for what to leave tacit.” The Independent “A simple, powerful, knowing little book . . . Like a small grenade, it will ricochet uncomfortably around the mind of any Christian believer for some time to come.” Financial Times “[ The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is] Pullman at his very best, limpid and economical. . . . Pullman leaves the Christian reader with a genuine paradox to ponder.” The Guardian “Told in simple, unadorned prose that is nonetheless beautifully effective, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ traces the familiar journey toward the cross and makes it fresh. . . . Pullman’s retelling of the central story in western civilization provides a brilliant new interpretation that is also a thought-provoking reflection on the process of how stories come into existence and accrue their meanings.” Sunday Times “A fast-paced little parable that puts a common sense tweak to a number of the miracles, while reminding us how much of the Gospels is devoted to social justice and compassion.” Sacramento News & Review “Short but ambitious, exhilarating . . . [ The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ] mixes Christian mythology with speculative fiction. . . . Pullman approaches his biblical source material with respect.” Winnipeg Free Press “ The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a compassionate meditation on the nature of faith.”CBC News (Canada)
Pullman (www.philip-pullman.com), author of the award-winning "His Dark Materials" trilogy, takes a unique and respectful look at the life and legacy of Jesus as told from the point of view of Christ, Jesus's identical twin brother, whose not-entirely honest telling underscores the questionable reliability of such historical accounts. Pullman himself reads, his deep and soothing British-accented performance carrying the story along admirably. Recommended for all listeners, especially fans of religious fiction. [Also available, exclusively from the iTunes Store, is an iPhone ebook app combining Pullman's full-text, synchronized reading and including a video Q&A with the author.—Ed.]—Scott R. DiMarco, Mansfield Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.