What if Jesus had a twin brother, Christ? And what if his role was to chronicle Jesus’ life? And what if he turned out to be less an historian, and more a spin doctor? ‘Cause maybe Jesus’ ordinary life needed to be embellished, or maybe his steely exhortations needed to be tamed? “In writing of things as they should have been,” Christ is encouraged, “you are letting truth into history.” Even if that “truth” is false.
“Above all,” this novel’s publisher states, “this book is about how stories become stories.” Written at the prompting of a Philip Pullman admirer, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the book is, according to Richard Holloway, once bishop of Edinburgh, an “allegorical retelling of the Christian story.” He adds, “It is a fierce and beautiful book which…will move even those who disagree with it.”
Britannica Online acknowledges that Pullman is “one of the best-known writers for children,” and is considered “a worthy successor of J.R.R. Tolkein…and C.S. Lewis…. However, while Lewis [in The Chronicles of Narnia] portrayed religion in a positive light, Pullman, who was a vocal atheist, wrote of the abuses of organized religion, and instead embraced a humanistic morality.”
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
By Philip Pullman
Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2010