Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ - Philip Pullman

...But this is the tragedy; without the story, there will be no church, and without the church, Jesus will be forgotten... Oh, Martha, I don't know what I should do.'

' You should eat your supper', said Martha.

Part of the myth series published by Canongate, this book by Philip Pullman is already making some news. Looking at the most retold story of Jesus Christ, in a different angle, Pullman offers his version of the story. The back cover insists that "this is a story".

" I've always been fascinated by the two parts of the name of Jesus Christ, and by the difference between them. Another thing that's interested me for a long time is the way in which the Christian church began to formulate its beliefs and establish a canon of scripture: there were many more gospels than four, but why were those four chosen and others left out? When did Paul begin to write his epistles? Was what he said different from what the gospels say? Do the gospels even agree with one another? Was there a difference between Jesus and Christ? My version of the Jesus story doesn't attempt to solve these questions, but I hope readers will find it interesting " - from his website

Mary, young girl married off to an old carpenter Joseph. Joseph left the young Mary at home and was often away with his job. It was during this time a messenger came to her and told her about the divine life that is going to take shape in her womb. She was worried about the controversy, being pregnant while Joseph is away. As we all know, when the time arrived, fearing the rulers anger, Joseph takes his wife on a journey to Egypt and the give birth to Jesus in a make shift shed amongst the animals . Here is the twist to the story. Mary gave birth to twins, one was Jesus and the other Christ. The angels and the other omen pointed out Christ as the saviour of mankind. Jesus grew typical to any young boy, strong ,often naughty and hardly showing any signs of intelligence. Christ on the other hand was thin and frail, showing early signs of maturity and intellect. During the adolescent days Jesus runs away from home, and it was Christ who manages to bring him back with reasoning. The early stages of miracles were demonstrated by Christ.

However, towards baptism by John, there were changes in Jesus. He left home and spent time in the forest praying and identifying himself. As the rest of the story goes, Jesus now have a followers of himself. It was Christ who advises him on the importance of performing miracles, the need of healing the ills, the need to preach. During this time an angel in the form of stranger make an appearance to Christ and ask him to document all that is done by Jesus. Christ, follows Jesus without his knowledge and writes down all that is spoken and performed. At place where he cant reach, one of the disciple help him by recounting the events.

The rest is known to all. The growing popularity of Jesus is not welcomed by the authorities. To their dismay, Christ defeats the arguments of the Law makers at multiple times. His followers belongs to every walk of life, from whores to taxmen to the people of meagre means. Unlike the biblical story, it was Christ who betray Jesus here, Of course under the instruction form the angel. The crucification and the resurrections are then described in very realistic terms , may not be to the agreement of the believers. It was Christ , who appears in front of Mary of Magdela and to the disciples. It was his version that then discussed and spread amongst the believers.

While I am not a great fan of such novels. It leaves a lot for debates and discussions and the freedom of the writer to deviate from the known story. This book too suffers from the influence of the original. The necessity to abide by the flow of incidents that is of importance, but the need to include in his version of narration, it looses some of the initial steam in middle. However, he finishes this brilliantly. I found the passages of Jesus contemplating his actions and their results, and his doubts on the God and the role he has to play, written beautifully.

Fast read, large size print ( lesser strain to your eyes) and short chapters make it easy to finish. Very average book, except a few brilliant passage and two twist to the tale ( the twins and the concet of Christ betraying Jesus). If you are interested in these kind of books, I would recommend Nobel Laureate, Jose Saramago's Gospel According to Jesus Christ to this one.

The Good Man Jesus and The scoundrel Christ ( 2010 )

Philip Pullman

Penguin Viking

245 Pages

Rs 499
Other Revirews: Wiki , Guardian ,

No comments: