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The Liars' Gospel

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  729 Ratings  ·  174 Reviews
An award-winning writer re-imagines the life of Jesus, from the points of view of four people closest to him before his death.

This is the story of Yehoshuah, who wandered Roman-occupied Judea giving sermons and healing the sick. Now, a year after his death, four people tell their stories. His mother grieves, his friend Iehuda loses his faith, the High Priest of the Temple
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published August 30th 2012)
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Feb 14, 2013 Therese rated it liked it
Recommends it for: nonreligious readers, those interested in Judaism and/or historical Jesus
A historical novel depicting Yehoshuah (the historical Jesus) through the eyes of four different people who encountered him: his mother Mary, Judas Iscariot, the high priest Caiaphas, and the criminal/revolutionary Barrabas, whom the crowd demanded be set free in place of Yehoshuah prior to Yehoshuah's crucifixion. (In this book, one can't speak of "The" Crucifixion with a capital C, since there are crucifixions left and right.)

This book was artfully constructed and very competently written. Rel
Jun 03, 2013 Jenni rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
The Liars' Gospel by Naomi Alderman is a "creative" retelling of life in Israel under Roman occupation and early on centers on Jesus. Alderman's crafting of words is superb so it's quite disappointing that she put her talent to work slandering a public figure in such an offensive manner.

In the novel we are exposed to the viewpoints of Mary, Barabbas, and Judas as imagined by Alderman. I can get behind historical fiction wherein we take a real place or course of events to set the scene and slide
Lyn (Readinghearts)
Apr 13, 2013 Lyn (Readinghearts) rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in the history of Isreal, Judaism, and the origin of Christianity
Recommended to Lyn (Readinghearts) by: Little, Brown and Company and netgalley
Naomi Alderman's new novel, The Liars' Gospel is defintely not a book for everyone. The book is set in the first century and centered around the life of a Jewish prophet, Yehoshuah (Jesus to us). Although it is ostensibly a retelling of the story of Jesus, I found Alderman's detailing of the political climate in Jerusalem during the rise and fall of Jesus much more interesting. The story is told from four viewpoints. That of Marym,Yehoshuah's mother, His friend and follower Ieudah of Queriot, th ...more
Jul 24, 2014 Aleks rated it really liked it
I am tempted to give this five stars to help balance many of the one-star reviews by people who somehow accidentally found themselves reading a book by a non-Christian for the first time and were traumatized and enraged by the unfamiliar experience. Honestly, read the one-star reviews just for laughs.

Naomi Alderman retells the story of Israel under Roman occupation and beset by false messiahs, both religious and military. Being Jewish, Alderman does not believe that Jesus was a god and this no

70 years after the storming of Jerusalem's walls, a mother mourns her preacher son's death

BBC blurb - In her new novel, the award-winning writer Naomi Alderman provides a compelling and challenging fictional account of life in Roman-occupied Judea. Her novel begins in 63 BC with Pompey's Roman army assailing the fortifications of Jerusalem, and ends with the bloodshed of the Jewish-Roman war in the first century CE.

Within this context of Roman brutality and Jewish insurrection, Alderman pre
Samuel Rood
Jun 07, 2013 Samuel Rood rated it did not like it
It was an interesting idea, writing a book about Jesus from a Jewish perspective, but I was very disappointed. The first century characters so obviously belonged in the 21st. None of the characters were believable and the character development was stale and predictable. Miriam (Mary) was the most interesting story, but the other three characters (Judah aka Judas, Bar Avo aka Barabbas, and Caiaphas) as well as their stories all fell flat. The cursing and the sexuality in the story so distracted f ...more
Brent Soderstrum
Feb 10, 2013 Brent Soderstrum rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-read
I won this book through GoodReads First Read program.

This is an uncomfortable read for a Christian. Alderman is a Jewish lady who allegedly writes about Jesus through four peoples perspective. Mary, Judas, Caiphaas and Barabas. Yet only the Mary and Judas section cover Jesus prominently. Caiphaas and Barabas only discuss Jesus peripherally. Even the sections which do cover Jesus more completely include complete lies with absolutely no backing which results in the uncomfortable feeling in reading
I only got 14% through this book when I realized I was starting to hate Jesus. Who the heck would write a historical fiction novel and turn the Savior of the World into an abusive, unfeeling, psycho? I'm curious as to who the author thought her audience was, because any Christians worth their salt would use the book as toilet paper. Atheists or Muslims might agree with its accuracy (or lack thereof) but I honestly can't imagine this novel interesting them.
Typically, writers of historical fiction
Jan 03, 2014 Patrick rated it it was amazing
An interesting take on a part of human history where myth and history collide. There are people, like Julius Caesar, whom we know existed, and about whom we know a fair amount. And then there are people like Helen of Troy, lost to pre-history, who as likely as not, never existed. Jesus of Nazareth is perched awkwardly between these two places, and to my mind, this made Naomi Alderman's story about life in Roman-occupied Jerusalem a quite haunting novel about how stories and myths come to be and ...more
Feb 28, 2014 Hannah rated it really liked it
Naomi alderman has written an intriguing account of events and people surrounding Jesus. In so doing she has made biblical figures that are sometimes perceived as one dimensional characters and turned them into ones we can relate to, with depth and conflict and imperfection. Although at times it felt sacrilegious reading some points of view such as the Iehuda from Qeriot, it made you see how Jesus could have been perceived, at the time, in a negative but credible way; a rock star that started to ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"And in the midst of all that, one preacher by the name of Jesus died. And either something miraculous happened or someone lied."

This is not the story of Yehoshuah (Jesus)but of the way his existence affected those around him. It is an often bloody tale of a people under Roman occupation, told from the perspectives of Miryam (his mother), Iehuda (a follower), Caiaphas (High Priest of Jerusalem) and Bar-Avo (rebel and murderer).

The first half of the book is sublime. Miriam's feelings of betrayal,
Jun 18, 2013 Renee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The Liars' Gospel: A Novel, fictional book on the life of Jesus, is a visually telling read and gives a realistic look into how people lived, thought, loved, and hated back in Biblical times. There are three main sections which are three very different stories, each revolving around a time, place, verse, or person from the Bible.

For example, part one focuses on the life of Jesus from birth to his resurrection and how he was perceived by the family who gave him mortal life. Instead of writing abo
Cindie Harp
This book is brilliant. I am a deep lover of the time period, so I stand biased, but Naomi Alderman's reimagination of the period, weaving of actual historical reports (I am hard-pressed to call anything "fact" when the experts so vehemently disagree) and novelist projections, is riveting (to me). I will think of her rendition for a long time.

I know I read her Orange Award winning book, Disobedience, when it came out, but did not record it on Goodreads. I loved how she interspersed some LGBT roo
Honestly nearly rated this five stars. It's excellent. Read it.

I have quite a number of retellings of the Christ myth, so if I tell you that this may be the best, even better than The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ, believe it is good. It says something so widely overlooked and even forgotten but so obvious - this is a Jewish story. In traditional Jewish communities, where the rituals and observations and practice in everyday life is kept alive, as it was without change for millennia, t
Jul 13, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
I thought I was going to like this - that's why you checked it out of the library Paul you dumbdumb - but I REALLY liked it! A piece of historical fiction set in the time of Roman occupied Judea, early in the first century CE. Before the first of four parts begin there is an introduction that perfectly sets the tone for much of what lies ahead: The ritual sacrifice of a lamb in the Jerusalem temple (that's THE Temple of course, Herod the Great's rebuilt version of King Solomon's earlier destroye ...more
Jun 13, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's something a bit WOLF HALL-ish about what Alderman is up to here, in taking the story of Jesus and telling it from a defiantly secular, Jewish perspective. The four narrators are all known by their Jewish names, Miryam (Mary), Iehuda of Qeriot (Judas Iscariot), Caiaphas, and Bar-Avo (Barabbas), while Jesus is consistently referred to as Yehoshuah. Yehoshuah borrows a lot of old rabbinical teachings (the Golden Rule is not original to Christianity) mixed with a few visionary notions ("Love ...more
Jennifer S. Brown
"Liars' Gospel" blew me away. Once I picked it up, I was hard pressed to put it down. Historical novels as well as novels about religion fascinate me, and Alderman does such a great job of capturing the time period in such a way as to make the reader feel as if it's familiar. The story of Jesus/Yehoshuah as told from the point of view of four Jews is such a different way of looking at the story. In two of the sections, Yehoshuah is almost a minor character until you realize how heavily he has in ...more
Virginia Rounding
Aug 31, 2013 Virginia Rounding rated it did not like it
It may be a truism to say that if this book were a fictional account of the life of Mohammed, rather than of Jesus, Naomi Alderman would have had to take cover, but it is nevertheless the case. I couldn't abide it. Her picture of both Jesus and Mary is so far off course as to be unreadable (for a Christian), even if stylistically good (which it is).
Ayala Levinger
Apr 18, 2017 Ayala Levinger rated it really liked it
what a book! and to read it by coincidence in the weekend of Easter! too bloody for me at times but not less reliable alternative for the story of Jesus then the version we "know". All the characters are so human. no one is just godly or just a traitor. my favorite character was Kajafas' wife.
Margaret Houston
Aug 21, 2013 Margaret Houston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, the writing itself is brilliant. It's poetic, sensory, emotional, and spare while not sacrificing passion. And the concept - the story of the Passion of Jesus from the point of view of four people surrounding him - is excellent. Alderman shows the complexity of Jewish society, and the different ways in which Rome is a constant presence in the lives of her characters. Historical figures are not allowed to remain static and distant, but brought to vivid, three-dimensional life.

Much o
Apr 14, 2013 Melinda rated it did not like it
Originally posted on: The Book Musings

The Liars’ Gospel is a fictional retelling of the story of Jesus (Yehoshuah). A book many has labelled controversial and I can indeed say that it is. I think that when you choose religion as your topic, you will find mixed reactions towards your book. Some people will like it and others won’t and this is evident when you look at the ratings on Goodreads, because you will find as many 1 star ratings as there are 5 or 4 star ratings.

The story is set in the fi
Alex McGilvery
Apr 28, 2013 Alex McGilvery rated it liked it
The Liar's Gospel is one of those books that challenge and provoke. Naomi Alderman gives an alternate telling of the time of Jesus, Yehoshuah in the Hebrew. Yehoshuah is Miryam's eldest son, but he is a disappointment to his father Yosef. Miryam starts the telling of the story creating fiction that Gidon, one of Yehoshuah's followers wants to hear. Iehuda, Judas in the latin, picks up the tale, then Caiaphas, the High Priest and lastly Bar-Avo, Barrabas. For those who are looking for another upl ...more
Jan 29, 2014 Johanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good book. It puts Jesus into the political and historical context of an occupied city and offers a new perspective on the biblical tales via the stories of Barrabas, Caiaphas, Judas & Mary. Each of these characters is given a decent backstory that puts their actions into context and makes them come alive as characters. It also puts it all firmly in its Jewish context; from the stories that are told to the call for a messiah. I really liked the writing style - like the best ...more
Ben Pashkoff
My First response is WHY? WHY did she write this book? I really wanted to give it more stars in the rating, but simply could not bring myself to do it. MAYBE I am simply the wrong person to be reading this book, in which case, the review is best left to the "right" person? There was a lot of potential, a couple of really interesting and crucial themes brought out but sadly (IMO) under-developed. Some characters were banal and meant to be so, but even here I found the language used to protry them ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Danusia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Most of us know what the Gospels tell about Jesus and having him as the main subject. But what about some of the other characters close to him? Naomi Alderman picks 4 secondary characters, people that had a connection to Jesus and imagines their stories and feelings - his mother, his betrayer apostle, the high pries who condemned him and the zealot that was spared his life while Jesus was crucified. Along with their stories, we glimpse what it must have been like back then. While all of these st ...more
Lisa Bernstein
Jan 28, 2014 Lisa Bernstein rated it really liked it
Great depiction of life in Judea in the first century, focusing on the crucifixion of Jesus. The story is told from several perspectives, which enriches the storytelling. The thing that surprised me the most was the description of the sacrifices from the perspective of the priests. I never would have thought I could appreciate a description of that; however, it includes not only the gory details, but what the priest performing the sacrifice should be thinking about, such as one's own mortality. ...more
For Books' Sake
"Told in four parts, this novel boldly attempts to retell the story of “civilsation’s most famous execution”, and follows Yehoshuah (Jesus) as he wanders Roman-occupied Judea giving sermons and healing the sick, with an ever-growing band of loyal followers.

The first part, narrated my Miryam (Mary), finishes shortly after she has learned of her son’s death. She takes in a young boy, Gidon of Yaffo, who professes to be one of Yehoshuah’s most devoted followers, and tries to convince Miryam that he
Nov 22, 2012 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Liars' Gospel is an intellectual exercise. It asks a very simple question: what might have happened, around 2000 years ago, to cause the rise of Jesus Christ and Christianity?

It is a thought experiment. Jesus - Jehoshua - is not the protagonist of this story. He is very present, as all three narratives are tangential to his own, but our three protagonists are Myriam (his mother), Yehuda of Qeriot (Judas of Iscariot) and Bar-Avo (Barrabas the murderer).

When I started reading the book, I expe
Roger Brunyate
May 28, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, history
Every story could be told in four different ways…

"…or forty or four thousand. Every story is at least partly a lie." So writes Naomi Alderman at the conclusion of this vivid, audacious, informative, and thought-provoking book. There have been a surprising number of novels in the past decade or so aiming to revisit the life of Jesus from a novelist's perspective. José Saramago writes as a surprisingly respectful atheist in The Gospel According to Jesus Christ ; Philip Pullman in The Good Man Je
Katy Noyes
Feb 06, 2017 Katy Noyes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the world of Jesus, a well thought-out recreation of a life and time

I'm not a believer in any religion, but do find the origins of them worthy of thought, and love interpretations and stories created from the materials we have.

From four perspectives, this book recreates the world of the first century, where the stories of Jesus were first developed. His mother, Judas, Barbaras and Caiaphas (a high priest) between them tell the story of a preacher who taught and was crucified
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Naomi Alderman (born 1974 in London) is a British author and novelist.

Alderman was educated at South Hampstead High School and Lincoln College, Oxford where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She then went on to study creative writing at the University of East Anglia before becoming a novelist.
She was the lead writer for Perplex City, an Alternate reality game, at Mind Candy from 2004 th
More about Naomi Alderman...

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“It is a dreamer's doctrine. Visionary, astonishing. And a hard road, in times of war and occupation. If all involved had listened to those words, matters would have fallen out quite differently. And if those who claimed to follow him later had dedicated themselves to that one thing- "Love your enemy"- much bloodshed might have been avoided. But perhaps the idea was too difficult, for it is not much observed, even to this day. Easier to prefer one's friend to one's enemy. Easier to destroy than to build or to keep a thing standing.” 2 likes
“What is freedom, in the end, but that no one cares any longer to try to restrain us?” 1 likes
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