The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman

read by Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman's gospel harmony The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ gives us a refreshing reinterpretation of the life of Christ by proposing that the young and naive Mary, seduced by a suitor in the guise of a divine messenger, gives birth not simply to the Messiah but to twins: Jesus, and a younger brother, Christ.

This conceit gives Pullman the opportunity of deconstructing the contradictions of the gospels and presenting a modest Jesus, who is the son of God, and his more complicated, jealous, and manipulative alter ego, Christ. Thus, miracles are seen either as real miracles - gifts from God - or more rational explanations of human characteristics (such as the feeding of the 5,000 being achieved by persuading the crowds to look in their bags and pockets for scraps of food they may have brought themselves and share them with their fellows).

Jesus really is 'a good man', whereas Christ is more showman than 'scoundrel'. But Christ's actions are misunderstood and it is he who betrays his brother and makes sure the crucifixion goes according to plan. As Jesus and Christ are identical twins, Jesus' resurrection is easily achieved. And Christ sorts out the gospel accounts by keeping notes on his brother's words for a mysterious stranger, whose identity is for the reader to determine.

Beautifully packaged, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is entertaining, thought-provoking, and sure to be controversial.

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