The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

It's well known that Philip Pullman, best known as the author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, is no fan of organized religion. The good man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ is a re-telling of the gospels. Advertised as a radical re-telling, I'm not sure that it really is that radical, however it is an interesting read. I suspect the "radicalism" comes from the belief that many non-believers have, that Christians accept the whole of the Bible as literally true, and of course never have any doubts themselves - although this may be true of certain Christian sects, it certainly isn't true of me, or of many other Christians.

The basic premise of the book is that Jesus was actually a twin. The practical Jesus, the good guy, who was great at giving sound advice for living - the Sermon on the Mount etc - and his brother, Christ, who by re-writing the story of Jesus adds in the spiritual element - miracles, resurrection, the need for a church, and so on.

The book is an odd amalgam of the Bible, apocryphal stories surrounding the Bible (for example legends concerning Mary's and Jesus' childhoods), bits from lost gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, a touch of Monty Python's Life Of Brian
(I'm not sure whether or not this was deliberate, if the latter, it provided some unintentional hilarity), and a bit of polemic thrown in. Christ is a strange mixture of the mystical Jesus and Judas, and there's, to my mind, some rather nasty imagery - Jesus is the healthy twin, whereas Christ is the sick, weak twin - a rather odd reversal of Paradise Lost where Lucifer was the upright healthy figure.

It's a bit of an odd read, there's nothing particularly radical about it, but it is interesting and thought-provoking, and worth reading if you're into theology.


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