On Wednesday 30 November, I attended an event at St James's Church, Piccadilly, chaired by Lucy Winkett (Rector of St James's), where Philip Pullman and Chris Rowland discussed Blake’s argument with the Bible. The event was held to celebrate Blake’s birthday and the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible in 1611.
I am a HUGE Philip Pullman fan and His Dark Materials is one of my favourite books of all time (His Dark Materials is, of course, a trilogy). I have been on Philip Pullman's trail for ages, but I have never got to see him live or hear him speak before this event because his talks have always clashed with some other commitment that I have on.
I LOVE His Dark Materials and all the companion books, but I have not read much else of Philip's work. However, in preparation for this discussion and Q&A, I read "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ". Embarrassingly I am going to have to admit that, because theatre and film have taken over my life this year, I have precious little time for anything else, including television, and so this is the ONLY new book that I have read this year (I have reread some old favourites, including many Canon stories). I have had the book itself for the best part of 6-9 months but it was only because this event was coming up that I finally prioritised reading it.
All I will say is that I loved "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ". It is a very short and simple book, very easy to read. What it gave me was a good overview of all the Gospel stories relating to Jesus, with a new take/spin on them. It made me think. It proved once and for all how WHO writes history is critical, and also how history is often changed and reinterpreted when it is written. There is no such thing as a "true" history, all history is seen through the eyes of the person writing the history. I am thoroughly recommending the novel, to Christians, followers of other faiths, and atheists alike. Philip Pullman knows how to tell a good story and this book more than adequately shows that.
Buy it in hardback here for £9.14 (this is the version I have):
Buy it in paperback here for £6.59:
Cut and pasted from the Amazon website:
This is a story. In this ingenious and spell-binding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told. Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned. For, above all, this book is about how stories become stories.
'A supreme storyteller ... Pullman has done the story a service by reminding us of its extraordinary power to provoke and disturb.' Telegraph
However, His Dark Materials is better - way better - so, if you have not read that, read that first as a priority!