Title: The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ
Author: Philip Pullman
Page Count/Review Word Count: 252
Finally, a retelling that I can get on board with! I’ve never been a fan of retellings as a general rule because I don’t really see the point. Sure, sometimes they can be disruptive, but as a general rule they seem to be used to crowbar inclusivity into fiction, and it seems to me that the best way to be truly inclusive is to create original stories featuring minorities, rather than just rehashing the same story but changing the gender, sexuality or ethnicity of the main character. But perhaps that’s just me.
Here, though, Pullman basically uses a retelling to investigate our attitudes towards religion and ultimately poses some uncomfortable questions for those who follow the Christian faith. Luckily, I’m an atheist, and so I pretty much just read this in the same way that I’d read the bible: as a work of fiction. Except that this has much better story telling.
But I do think you could still enjoy this if you were religious, too. In fact, Pullman’s spin on biblical tales is kind of refreshing, taking a subject matter that I’m not particularly fond of and bringing it to life. I also liked how he managed to make both Jesus and Christ feel like two very different characters, and I know which one I prefer. Read it.