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Roger's Version: A Novel

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  928 ratings  ·  73 reviews
As Roger Lambert tells it, he, a middle-aged professor of divinity, is buttonholed in his office by Dale Kohler, an earnest young computer scientist who believes that quantifiable evidence of God’s existence is irresistibly accumulating. The theological-scientific debate that ensues, and the wicked strategies that Roger employs to disembarrass Dale of his faith, form the s ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Random House (first published August 12th 1986)
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- I'd like to talk to John Updike.

- Speaking.

- My name is Manny Rayner -

- Do I know you?

- No. I'm calling by intertemporal communicator from the year 2013. I -

- You'll excuse me, Mr. Rayner, I don't find this kind of thing particularly -

- Please don't hang up yet, Mr. Updike! I believe you're writing a book called Roger's Version.

- Yes, I am as a matter of fact. But I don't -

- You've nearly finished it.

- I was working on the final pages when you called. Now I -

- They're in a revolving restaurant
Feb 25, 2009 brian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science people. god people. curious people.
roger’s version concerns a young scientist who believes he can prove the existence of god on his computer. as he puts it,

“…these numbers are the basic physical constants (of the universe), these are the terms of creation...”

recurring patterns in these numbers, the glue of the universe, prove something beyond the mere physical, Dale explains, in hope of receiving a grant from professor of hereticism, Roger Lambert. as laughable as it sounds, his arguments are made convincing as updike is never
G.R. Reader
Mom asked me please not to read this book, and I had respected her wishes up to yesterday. But when Manny posted his review, I'm afraid my curiosity finally got the better of me.

Okay... well, Mom did go through a pretty difficult couple of years when I was a baby, and she's said a few times that she knew Updike. But I mean, everyone in her generation did. It doesn't mean anything.

No, I just can't believe it. Not Mom. I refuse to believe it.

You know, maybe she was right. Here's a hot tip to all y
I didn't read any Updike after I went through his Rabbit series. This book was a good reminder of what a masterful writer Updike is.

Even though the book is almost 30 years old now, the points that Dale, the Christian graduate student looking for a grant from the divinity department to prove the existence of God with computer simulations, raises — how staggeringly fine-tuned constants of nature appear to be in order to support the emergence of galaxies and stars and planets and eventually life —
Roger Lambert, you might say, takes creepiness to new heights, or shall I say, depths. Despite a tenured professorial position and a fairly attentive wife, he can't seem to keep his hands off his nubile niece. Worse, he fails to protect the niece's tragic child from abuse. Roger is not what you might call a sympathetic character.
There is a strong note of misogyny and racism throughout this book, some of it seemingly projected by the author. Calling the child a "tarbaby", repeatedly referring t
This is one of the few books I didn't complete. I found the story somewhat disgusting.
Steve Sckenda
Review in progress: first draft, not ready for publication (view spoiler) ...more
Roger's Version starts out with both barrels blazing, presenting two opposing sides (each persuading and well-constructed in its own right) of a God-vs-science argument between Roger, a jaded divinity professor, and Dale, a brash young grant candidate at his university. However, the book begins to bog down as outside forces in the characters' lives begin to chip away at Dale's once-unassailable beliefs and Roger's self-assured perceptions of moral superiority.
Like a lot of Updike's work, the bo
Ryan Splenda
Having never read anything by John Updike, I wanted to try one of his lesser known novels. I saw this novel at a flea market, and once I read the synopsis on the back of the book, I knew I wanted to give it a try.

I must say, I was very impressed by this novel. It dealt with the very heavy themes of religion and life. It was wonderful to see the numerous battles between the two main characters about proving the existence of God. Science vs. religion has always been a difficult topic for me. I hav
Greg of A2
This is a book that I read once for fun and a second time to write a college paper for a religion course. Each reading gave me new thoughts on the religious debates between the two main characters (a divinity Professor and a computer science student). It's understandable that Updike would be capable of handling the (Karl Barth based) religious argument (religion figures into many of Updike's works) but it's amazing how he's able to handle the computer data arguments within this novel (I'm fairly ...more
Brilliant portrayal of a learned, cynical, arrogant, adulterous and incestuous professor of theology, who lives a lie and becomes an accomplice in a case of child abuse. Still, one feels for Professor Lambert, his prevarications and distaste for his overenthusiastic student who misunderstands faith with proof of God's existence. The novel is also prescient, in anticipating recent hype over the question whether the universe can arise from nothing. Certainly Lawrence M. Krauss could recognize hims ...more
Christian Schwoerke
Updike revisits the themes and characters from Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and in this of his three Scarlet Letter novels (A Month of Sunday and S are the other two), he takes on the case of Roger Chillingsworth, here translated to Roger Lambert, a college theology professor, formerly a minister. His marriage to Esther (one of two aspects of Hester Prynne), 14 years his junior and without any religious inclination, compelled him to leave the church for the security of the university, where h ...more
Can't say that I am an Updike fan. This book had wonderful challenging dialog about the differences between science and religion and their relationship to God. That was the highlight of the book. Updikes characters were not ones you care much about. I also found that I lost the thread of the story and had to work to keep going on because I didn't care that much. Clearly Updike is really intelligent and has an amazing command of the language. It was just too much for me.
I'm always on the lookout for books that don't follow a tired formula, and I can honestly say that I've never encountered a novel like this. Where else can you find a novel with deep discussions of Christian theology, theoretical physics, and computer technology, punctuated with scenes of explicit sex?

Roger Lambert is a professor at a distinguished East Coast divinity school (which sounds a lot like Harvard). A former Methodist minister, he was resigned his ministry after an affair that led to t
Susie Han
Great writing...if you can stand his misogyny and racism. Its such a pity that his beautiful form is mired by such ugly values.
Christina "6 word reviewer" Lake
'Penis with a thesaurus' strikes again.
Kwaku Acheampong
As much of a fan I am of Updike, I couldn't even get through this one. Once again, adultery takes over the novel like some annoying fog that clouds whatever development the plot or the characters could be experiencing. I felt as if Updike's descriptive talents were wasted quite a bit in this one. I felt as if I was just reading extremely explicit sex scenes for characters I absolutely despised. And when that wasn't happening, I was listing to their circular narrow minded existential arguments th ...more
Joseph Hellion
Put your seat-belt on! This trip inside the mind of a cynical professor of theology is not really a Sunday picnic. The food is of the heavy variety so you'd better have the stomach. What's on the menu this time? The old debate of science-religion : Cosmology, genetics, computer science and the old theology books in dead tongues. Add some sex, love, revenge and here you go. It's like Hawkings, Dawkins , The Bible and Game of Thrones in one book. It's like the carnal vs the spiritual in a sense. B ...more
I really like Updike's writing style, and there was much about this book that I enjoyed. It's not one of Updike's better known novels, and I heard about it from a mention in the New Yorker article about Philip Roth, "The Book of Laughter: Philip Roth and his friends", by Claudia Roth Pierpont in the Oct. 7 issue. Roth Pierpont wrote "Although they saw each other only occasionally...Roth wrote a note or made a call when he was particularly impressed by something that Updike had written. He rememb ...more
Well written, extremely well researched and developed, and comfortably disquieting. Roger Lambert turns out to be so twisted and manipulative in every relationship that it just seems unbearable that he could hold a high ranking position in a world renowned Divinity School. It's as if he's chosen to master theology in order to litigate his way through his vices and perversions. Although I really like the book, I hate to believe that there aren't individuals in this life that can find grace in the ...more
Shane Eide

Divinity professor, Roger Lambert, seems to have a great deal of problems. Being hassled and annoyed by a young science-minded evangelical student named Dale about a grant for a project involving the proof of God’s existence is a minor inconvenience on the scale. It would seem that Dale is just as determined to find God behind every biological and cosmological corner as Roger’s wife, Esther, is determined to corrupt Dale’s already fragile faith with fornication.

As the divi
LK Hunsaker
In this rather strange story, Dale, a grad student at a religious college, begs for a grant to "prove" God's existance using the school's mainframe computer. He starts the request through the story's narrator, Roger, an ex-minister and current professor specializing in religious heretics. He's leaned the way many college professors lean and is not so very religious anymore. He left his first wife by way of having an affair with a non-religious highly vain woman, which intentionally resulted in h ...more
I don't usually take the time to write reviews but feel I should qualify my rating a little bit. As with all of Updike's novels, there are moments (which may be understating it a bit) of absolutely brilliant writing like:

"From infancy on, Edna had had a particular carnal pungence, a scented sponginess to her flesh; when, she a bumptious thirteen and I a recessive fourteen and condemned to spend all of August with my father and my vapid stepmother (whose name, Veronica, seemed as faded and priss
i think this is my very first updike novel, that i recall anyway (love his shortstories) and is based on a fairly old trope of usa college professor having extramarital sex. predominatly it is male prof/female student, lots of times male prof is also marrried.
roger is a divinity college prof in a run down but kinda nice ne city (yale?, sounds like yale sort of) he tells this whole story, so it truly is his version. and same old trope too, with a twist. male prof roger goes for his half-niece, wh
Updike died a few months ago amidst ecomiums so high, it gave me the guilts that I had read only one Rabbit book and several short stories. So when I happened upon this title, Roger's View, in a library book sale, I bought it.
Two interesting but not contrary ideas came swimming to the surface of my consciousness as I progressed in the novel. Undoubtedly the man could create unforgettable characters and most mundane/miraculous situations into which to place them. The players in this story---ver
Roger's Version starts out with both barrels blazing, presenting two opposing sides (each persuading and well-constructed in its own right) of a God-vs-science argument between Roger, a jaded divinity professor, and Dale, a brash young grant candidate at his university. However, the book begins to bog down as outside forces in the characters' lives begin to chip away at Dale's once-unassailable beliefs and Roger's self-assured perceptions of moral superiority.
Like a lot of Updike's work, the bo
John Harder
Roger Lambert, a professor of divinity is certain that God must be accepted on faith (though we get the impression that perhaps his own faith is walking on rather slippery rocks). His student, Dale Kohler is convinced that God may be proven through science, or more specifically through computer science; His Divine Majesty reduced to a series of ones and zeroes.

Roger's Version is a snapshot of man working through late middle age in a not so graceful fashion. Responding to a world of strained soci
Rick Edwards
The novel is rich in descriptive detail, visual, aural, and olfactory. Its characters seem psychologically whole; its setting is vivid and roiling in verisimilitude. I had hoped for a clearer resolution to the plot, but I nevertheless found it an entertaining and satisfying read. If you haven't read Updike, this is a good place to start.
Paul DiBara
The book started interestingly enough. I thought the story was going to build around a grad student who was attempting to established the existence of God by using computers. But the story degenerated into a study in cynicism and a guilt trip of a theology professor.
Henry Sturcke
Three stars? But it's by John Updike! And the confrontation at the center of the plot seems calculated to fascinate me. So what was the matter? Nothing really, it just wasn't as compelling as his (many) best. I wish I had loved this book, I wanted to.
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John Hoyer Updike (born March 18, 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania) was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for hi ...more
More about John Updike...
Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom, #1) Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4) Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3) Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom, #2) The Witches of Eastwick (Eastwick, #1)

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