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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What if Mary had twins? Read about the Good Man and the Scoundrel

If you follow Anne Rice’s “Christ the Lord” series or read Bart Ehrman’s books about the variety of early Christian teachings and writings, then you may want to dive into Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, the latest entry in Canongate’s The Myths series. Pullman tackles the daunting task of transforming the familiar gospels’ descriptions of the life and teachings of Jesus into an engaging novel with a fresh, contemporary voice. However, he adds a bizarre twist: what would have happened if Mary gave birth in Bethlehem to twins, one named Jesus and the other nicknamed Christ?

This is a book for almost everyone: conspiracy theorists, Gnostics, theologians, and individuals with varying degrees of faith (although Biblical purists may cringe at some of the content). While he draws heavily from the gospels, Pullman also peppers his story with tenets, concepts, and stories from traditional religious teachings and legends (mostly from the Catholic Church) handed down for almost two millennia , rediscovered gospels and alternative Biblical texts, recent books and movies about Jesus, and various religious conspiracy rumors and gossip.

While this can be a disquieting read for some, The Good Man Jesus... is an easy read, written in a colloquial, almost pastoral, manner. As Pullman notes on the dust jacket, “... what I do with (the story) is my responsibility alone. Parts of it read like a novel ... a history ... a fairy tale ... it is, among other things, a story about how stories become stories.”

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