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Part 1: Off-the-cuff initial reactions to Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

The book could be summed up as “No! That’s not what I said!” in a painful, wincing way.
It was very simply and elegantly written, mixing phrases and metaphors from famous English translations of the Bible with Pullman’s own what-if imaginings.  He managed to put some realistic human angles into the story of the gospels yet keep some of the original fairy tale aspects, too.   One of the best examples I’ve seen of showing how we got it wrong, we got it all wrong.

Jesus’ soliloquy at Gethsemane is a beautiful, believable, universal surrender to doubting the divine and, at the same time, a love letter to this crazy world we live in.  I think everyone should read this book for at least that chapter alone, and if you want to skip ahead to it, fine — it’s pages 192 – 201 in the hardback edition.
I do wish that the book had a completely different title.  The given title was too distracting to me.  As I was reading, I kept trying to place things according to what the the title told me to expect, which made parts of the story confusing.  I wish the title had instead been the big bold phrase on the inside front flap of the dust jacket, as well as the splash for the book’s official website:

This is a story.

A much more powerful way to describe what the reader is about to experience … and by the end of the book, you might think of that title in a whole different way.

Part 2: Paper or Plastic?

On another note completely … this is a book I will definitely be reading again in it’s e-book edition.  Or perhaps I should say … in it’s Enhanced Edition.  It’s not clear to me whether it would be Philip Pullman’s voice reading the audio track that accompanies the text, but I am very excited to see the interviews.  The re-reading will probably have to wait till November, however.

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