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The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,589918,640 (3.32)78
In this ingenious, spellbinding and fiercely subversive retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman reimagines the most influential story ever told. He offers a radical new take on the myths and the mysteries of the Gospel truth and the resulting church that has so shaped the course of the last two millennia.… (more)
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    Delilah by Eleanor De Jong (tesskrose)
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    My Name Was Judas by C. K. Stead (Voise15)
    Voise15: Humanising of the Gospel stories through the eyes of Judas
  6. 01
    According to Mary Magdalene by Marianne Fredriksson (PatMock)
    PatMock: Retelling of gospel stories from viewpoint of Mary Magdalene
  7. 01
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    nigelmcbain: Both of these works re-use the material of the Gospel narratives to refocus on what the essential message of Yeshua bar Yussif's message was.
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» See also 78 mentions

English (88)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
honestly this is coming from someone who almost 100% agrees with pullman's philosophical outlook towards religion as expressed in his dark materials. this was just lazy, not a critique of anything in particular. i feel like he didn't really know what he was doing with this book, except for the bit in Gesthamane was really good ( )
  jooniper | Sep 10, 2021 |
"In writing of things as they should have been, you are letting truth into history."

So, I've read the story of Jesus a number of times now, by a variety of authors. My favorite is still Nikos Kazantzakis' The Last Temptation of Christ, but this Philip Pullman's Good Man Jesus is a close second. And it's a completely different kind of read.

Pullman, of course, is an atheist and I had no expectation that he would approach this retelling with the reverence of Kazantzakis. But I was surprised by the gentleness with which he told the story. The central character, Christ, is the twin brother of Jesus, in awe of his sibling, and an unofficial (later official) chronicler of Jesus' deeds. It is at times an amusing, always believable, account, too. Christ is an incredibly sympathetic figure, one who is content to live in the shadow of his more famous brother. Indeed, as he transcribes Jesus' sayings and deeds, he can't help but embellish a bit--polishing, as it were, in a way that would fit with any admiring sibling's hero worship.

As Jesus' fame spreads, a stranger approaches Christ and asks him to take his role of chronicler more seriously, and Christ does so. Like any hobby that becomes a job has the potential to do, this recording, this "adding truth to history" as the stranger calls it, sours Christ a little, ultimately leaving him hopelessly entwined to what the reader knows will be Jesus' legacy and official story, but also with a bitter taste in his mouth.

Everything is here, from the "virgin birth" (the only time the story ever gets "jokey," though I wasn't bothered by it) to the empty tomb. One reason why this book read so quickly for me was because so much of it was so familiar. Yet, it felt fresh and held my interest. I got the sense that, even though the prose was simplistic (much like the gospels themselves), the telling held some profound insights. The writing is less complex than even Pullman's adolescent literature, yet he flexes some serious writing muscle by doing more with less. To have written this version of the Jesus story with the dense language of Kazantzakis would have missed the point-- Pullman tells the simple story that grew to change the world as it might have been, with a little less "truth" and a little more history. ( )
  allan.nail | Jul 11, 2021 |
More of a good idea than a good execution. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
Very pleased to be able to read something by Pullman that is good after putting down the third volume of Northern Lights way before the end.

The subject matter, the treatment and the title were all likely to put me off, but S-L highly recommended it and Manny read it in a sitting - despite the scintillating option of chatting to the knitters. That sold me. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Very pleased to be able to read something by Pullman that is good after putting down the third volume of Northern Lights way before the end.

The subject matter, the treatment and the title were all likely to put me off, but S-L highly recommended it and Manny read it in a sitting - despite the scintillating option of chatting to the knitters. That sold me. ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
Det är skickligt, fast stundtals undrar jag varför jag ska läsa Pullman och inte originalet. Byta ut de övernaturliga passagerna mot rationalistiska kan jag göra själv. Men låt oss stanna vid det som är specifikt för Pullmans version.
 
"The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ" was commissioned by its publisher, Canongate, as part of a series in which the world's great myths "are retold in a contemporary and memorable way." This one comes up decidedly short of the mark.
 
A very bold and deliberately outrageous fable, then, rehearsing Pullman's familiar and passionate fury at corrupt religious systems of control – but also introducing something quite different, a voice of genuine spiritual authority. Because that is what Pullman's Jesus undoubtedly is.
 
I said earlier that Pullman was a Protestant atheist. Even so, he may well have been annoyed at the welcome given to his book by the clerical establishment in the person of the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, who has described the “Jesus” character as “a voice of genuine spiritual authority” and the book itself as “mostly Pullman at his very impressive best, limpid and economical.”

........

this latest attempt to secularize Messianism is a disappointment to those of us who can never forgive the emperor Constantine, not just for making Christianity a state dogma, but for making humanity hostage to the boring village quarrels and Bronze Age fables that were drawn from what remains the world’s most benighted region.
 
Which brings us to Pullman's new work, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, which is, to put it mildly, a very strange book. Superficially a novel, it is Pullman's attempt to graft his belief system onto the life of Jesus, to mutate Christianity into a kind of Pullmanism. Give Pullman high marks for moxie: How many writers would dare to try to rewrite—no, to repair—the most famous, most sacred story ever written?
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pullman, Philipprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Svendsen, WernerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zöfel, AdelheidÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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.
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Jesus praying: "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..." p. 199.
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In this ingenious, spellbinding and fiercely subversive retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman reimagines the most influential story ever told. He offers a radical new take on the myths and the mysteries of the Gospel truth and the resulting church that has so shaped the course of the last two millennia.

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A reworking of the Gospel narratives describing the birth of twins, one called Jesus and the other nicknamed Christ and how Christ ultimately betrays Jesus in an attempt to preserve his essential message.
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Canongate Books

4 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847678254, 1847678270, 1847680186, 0857860070

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921656190, 1921758090

 

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