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Paperback The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ Book

ISBN: 0802145396

ISBN13: 9780802145390

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

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Upon its hardcover publication, renowned author Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ provoked heated debates and stirred a frenzy of controversy throughout the clerical and literary worlds alike with its bold retelling of the life of Jesus Christ. In this remarkable piece of fiction, famously atheistic author Philip Pullman challenges the events of the Gospels and puts forward his own compelling and plausible version of the...

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Having read Phillip Pullman's trilogy, "The Golden Compass",etc., I expected this to be a tome where he exacts his revenge on all those conservative Christians who railed against his fantasies as anti Catholic and atheistic. I found them fantasies and thought the critics must have forgotten books like "Animal Farm" and "Watership Down" which were in the same vein but "Compass" was much more interesting to me as an adventure. The fact was that I never would have guessed that Pullman wrote this book. It is very well written but so kind and logical in its tone that it comes off as a great story with vaguely familiar characters. It doesn't take fore knowledge for granted as one would find in religious books. I listened to it on CD and it really kept me involved and thinking while I did my multitasking on the farm. I never thought that I would recommend a book with this title but I do and the title might put some people off but perhaps that is the author's intent but a religious person or a spiritual person would not take offense and so do not let that dissuade you from looking at Jesus as a contemporary. Any book that makes you think about your beliefs and why you have them is a good read and this book is one of them.

A passioned lament on the fate of Jesus' words

From the back cover: In this ingenious and spellbinding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told. Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to reverberate long after the final page is turned. For above all, this book is about how stories become stories. Review: I'm going to start this review with a statement about my own faith so I might best explain how I feel about this book. The reason why I really loved this story is so intertwined within my own journey through a religious upbringing that I can't think of any way to review it and offer my opinion without including it. I was raised as a church attending Roman Catholic so I know the story of Jesus pretty much back to front. These days I'm definitely what you would call a non-practicing Catholic. I still have belief in a higher power (though not a 'personal' God), and my views are definitely heretical. I also very strongly believe that everyone has the right to believe or not believe anything and everything and that everyone should leave everyone else to their own devices on their spiritual quest (or non-quest or non-spiritual quest as the case may be). As a general rule I try to avoid both Christian literature and books written by atheists. As far as Christian literature goes it's just not my thing, and as far as the atheist stuff goes I tend to get a bit irate at the authors - for God's sake (sorry, couldn't help myself), let them believe what they want, what does it really matter? (And here's where the atheists get antsy about religion interfering with politics etc etc - and quite rightly so I have to say). I'm really not interested in having either God-bothering rhetoric shoved down my ears, or listening to a rant by a person enamoured with the cleverness of their own logic-fanaticism (looking at you Richard Dawkins). So it would seem that this book is the kind of thing I would try to avoid. But there was just something about it that peaked my interest and I had to give it a try. Most likely I was intrigued with the reference to it being a book about how stories become stories - a personal interest of mine. I'm so glad I decided to read it, this is the best book I have read this year. I know it's only May and early days yet, but this is a likely contender for the best book for 2010 for me. It is a short novel, and written in a manner very close to the Gospel format and is easy to read. I finished it in a few hours. I suppose that most Christian readers will consider this book both blasphemy and heresy, but there is something different about this than most atheist writing. There is something respectful and honouring of the traditional myths of Jesus, Pullman's Jesus is a good man, better than any other in some ways, and like in the bible versions, he is often troubled and difficult to understand, b

A magisterial and provocative work.

This is an amazing book. One chapter in particular is positively mind-blowing--the chapter with Jesus "praying" in the garden on the night before his crucifixion. I can't say more without spoiling key elements within the story the uncovering of which are among the book's chief pleasures. That the overall impression one takes away from "Good Man" is so overwhelmingly positive is all the more remarkable because the book is, in so many surprising ways, profoundly flawed. Pullman says that "Good Man" is in part an exploration of story itself, and yet the narrative structure of "Good Man"--ingenious though its central conceit is--seems confused. A book that starts off with a character apparently able to perform "authentic" miracles (turning clay birds into live birds, for example) and then moves to a naturalistic explanation of Jesus' miracles would be, in less skilled hands, something of a disaster. Yet, for its brilliant ideas, winsome prose, and compassionate wisdom, "Good Man" overcomes chapter-by-chapter the yawning failures of the whole. The parts are greater than the sum of the parts. Is the story offensive to believers? I suppose so. It seems rather tragic that such an honest and heartfelt--and uplifting--exploration of the Jesus story should offend Christians, but I reckon that inevitable. It's hard not to think that Christians offended by a work of such sheer grit and earthy beauty have their offendedness coming to them, though. With the criticisms I offered in mind--and a further note that the earlier chapters are not as compelling as the later chapters, so don't give up too soon--I recommend "Good Man" as highly as it is possible to recommend a work of fiction. And remember, this IS a work of fiction, and makes no pretense to be anything but. So those who complain about it not being "factual" or "biblical" enough are missing the point in a truly astonishing display of obstinate ignorance. I have a degree in biblical studies from an evangelical college and imagine I know the Bible better than most believers do. It is precisely in its departure from the original Gospel stories that the reason for the book's existence lies.

As the story goes

The story of Jesus has been proclaimed by Christians as "The Greatest Story Ever Told". Pullman in his story "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ" makes the point that we can never know what happened especially when we were not present when a story was made. The story of Jesus Christ is a story. It was not sufficiently documented to be history, but even if it were to be taken as history for the sake of argument, Pullman's point was that history as told is not necessarily truth. Truth, he thinks, can be injected into history in any way the story teller wants it. When it travels far enough and is retold often enough, and is, above all, a good story, people will believe it. Christians may likely find this book heretical and blasphemous. If the very idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus gave birth to twins, naming one "Jesus" and the other "Christ", may be sufficient justification for a charge of heresy, then to say that it was Christ who betrayed Jesus to the Roman governor must surely carry the aggravated charge of blasphemy. However, this book is much more complex and complicated than that. Pullman did not write this book because he was an atheist with the intention of annoying Christians by disparaging Jesus Christ, God, and the Biblical account. He recaptured many of the teachings of Jesus - all taken from the Bible - and cast them in a context that made those teachings far more meaningful than they do coming straight from the Bible. His citation of the Lord's Prayer in the context that he had created would have moved many a Christian. It has many a teaching attributed to Jesus Christ that any man, Christian or atheist, will like to embrace. For example, "'Lord, if I thought you were listening, I'd pray for this above all: that any church set up in your name should remain poor, and powerless, and modest. That it should wield no authority except that of love. That it should never cast anyone out. That it should own no property and make no laws. That it should not condemn, but only forgive." Slowly and ominously, Pullman spun a version of the life and death of Jesus, explaining the necessity if not the veracity of miracles in the story of Jesus. If miracles do not happen in real life, they had to be created. And the greatest miracle of all was the Resurrection. Pullman's account was contrary to popular Christian belief that the Roman soldiers did not break the legs of Jesus to hasten his death (a conventional practice in the art of crucifixion at the time). I will not add the spoiler here so that the reader can enjoy the book even more. This is not a book that is proclaiming that the Bible was false, and it was made clear that the book was only a story. Pullman's is a story that we don't quite expect; but was the Biblical story of Jesus one that we do? The point that runs through it is that a good story is till a story. Its success depends on many factors, among them, the credulity of people and the desire to believe in miracles.

A Story About Stories

If you look at the back cover of this book you'll find only four words: "This is a STORY." And at the most basic level, it is. It is a fictional story about Jesus and his brother Christ. But beyond that, and significantly more important, it is a story about stories, truth, humanity, religion, and how they all tie together. If you are used to the writing style of His Dark Materials, you may be surprised to find that Philip Pullman has chosen to take up a completely different style of narration. This book takes a much simpler approach-- it almost sounds like it is written so that an adult could read the story out loud to a child. While it is a bit off putting at first, particularly for those who love the style of His Dark Materials, it functions perfectly for the book's purpose. As the plot progresses Pullman beckons the reader to question whether or not truth and historical accuracy are one in the same; if an historical event is edited so that the truth is better portrayed, does that in some sense make the events that occurred more true, or more meaningful? The beauty of the book is that Pullman makes us question this on two levels--through the story the characters write and the story he himself writes. Pullman obviously doesn't see his story as historical fact (as I'm sure certain reviews that pop up will miss), but by blending the New Testament, what historians can guess, and some fiction of his own, we are left with a unique work that in many ways is more interesting and fascinating than the sources he draws from. As one might expect, the book, particularly by the end, is very critical of the concept of the Judeo-Christian God, as well as Christianity as it is often practiced today. Philip Pullman forces particularly the Christian reader to question what kind of person Jesus actually would have been--not as God, but as a human, and what beliefs he had as to what the Kingdom of Heaven is and how God should be worshiped. It's a shame that most Christians will be turned away from the book because of ideas they consider "blasphemous" (which is ironic because in the book Pullman cleverly explains how the ideas are not) because I truly believe, in the end, it will make the average Christian question if they are practicing their religion in a way that Jesus would approve of, and what needs to be done to become more "Christ-like." In short, I highly recommend this book to anyone, nonreligious and religious alike. I would also strongly suggest this book to be taught in English classes to discuss storytelling, although of course the subject matter is quite controversial, which of course could spark even more interesting conversation.
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