TITLE: THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST
AUTHOR: PHILIP PULLMAN
This book was send to me by by BookHugger as part of their RealReaders programme, for me to read and give my personal and honest opinion.
Philip Pullman is known for his stance against organized religion. That opinion was visible in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, for those able to read the meaning underneath the gripping adventure story.
In this book, Pullman's ideas are out in the open, clear for everybody to see and impossible to ignore.
This is the story of a baby boy named Jesus, and his twin brother, named Christ, who were born to a woman named Mary. While Jesus was a healthy and strong baby, Christ was weak and sickly, and his mother's farvourite.
In their younger years, Jesus was the child prone to mischief while Christ was quiet and aimed to please his parents.
When Jesus starts preaching to the people, and performing miracles, Christ is one of the spectators. But, Christ is also the one who can see the potential future of Jesus's work. He looks into the future and can see his brother and his teachings immortalized, an institution erected in his brother's honour, and institution that would ensure that his brother's words would live for ever.
Jesus doesn't like the sound of this future his brother can see and wants no part in it. But Christ decides he knows better and starts writing the words and deeds of Jesus down for prosperity. Because he feels that Jesus's stories are at times ambiguous, Christ writes some things down not quite as they are but as he thinks they should be. And soon Christ is approached by a stranger, a man who never reveals his identity but appears to know all about him and his brother and agrees with him that "the statements need to be edited, the meanings clarified, the complexities unravelled, for the simple-of-understanding". And with that events take a course that can't be reversed. A course that was never planned or wanted by Jesus but forced upon him by others.
The language and the story in this book are deceptively simple. And because the main thread of the story is a very familiar one, there is the temptation to fly over the pages. Doing that would be a shame though, since there is a lot on these pages that deserves contemplation and the readers full attention.
This is a story that will give the reader a lot to think about. For some this story will be confirmation of what they already felt. For others, those who are firm believers in the church and its teachings and authority, this will be a hard book to read, and a book that may well leave them angry. For me this was a beautiful and fascinating fable, and a story that will stay in my mind for a long time.