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The Fire Gospel (Canongate Myth Series)

3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,008 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
Theo Griepenkerl is a modest academic with an Olympian ego. When he visits a looted museum in Iraq, looking for treasures he can ship back to Canada, he finds nine papyrus scrolls that have lain hidden for two thousand years. Once translated from Aramaic, these prove to be a fifth Gospel, written by an eye-witness of Jesus Christ's last days. But when Theo decides to share ...more
Hardcover, Canongate Myths, 208 pages
Published November 6th 2008 by Canongate Books Ltd (first published November 1st 2006)
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Melanti Eho #2?

Someone added a Slovanian imprint for translated books as a series.
I've deleted it and replaced it with a Listopia (per Goodreads rules) so…more
Eho #2?

Someone added a Slovanian imprint for translated books as a series.
I've deleted it and replaced it with a Listopia (per Goodreads rules) so Eho shouldn't show up any more unless you're on the Slovanian edition.(less)

Community Reviews

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Oct 28, 2013 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it
I admire Michel Faber for his random output. His brain a literary pick and mix bag. You can probably just stick your hand in there and twirl it about a bit and not ever be sure what you're going to come out with. This short and easy to read offering stars The unglamorous Theo Griepenkerl. A self indulgent academic who lucks out on an ill fated trip to Iraq and stumbles upon a previously unknown aramaic gospel. Life isnt all sweetness though for as he's stealing the gospels from mosul museum the ...more
Jul 20, 2016 Laysee rated it liked it
The Fire Gospel attests to Faber’s intelligence as a writer of fiction. The story hinges on the discovery of a set of scrolls in a looted museum in Iraq, which contained the 5th gospel written by a disciple of Jesus named Malchus. On many layers, the novel reads like a parody of the Bible. The protagonist, a linguist and academician, is called Theo (Greek for God), who catapulted to overnight fame when he translated the papyrus scrolls from Aramaic. Interestingly, as the story itself is a ...more
Fairy tale? Myth? Legend? Religion? What do thses terms means?

Well, I'm not answering the question. You figure it out. But Faber does deal with the question in this book.

Part modern morality tale, Faber's Canongate volume attacks the play of religion in the media? What play I hear you ask? You mean 24 and its Muslim terrorists?

No, though one of the best sections of the book have a Muslim and Christian working together. I mean the whole Shroud of Turin, Da Vini Code, tomb of Jesus' brother, gospe
Tasha Robinson
Oct 31, 2014 Tasha Robinson rated it liked it
Interesting premise, about a venal, flawed man who stumbles across a series of perfectly preserved scrolls from Jesus' time, including an eyewitness account of Judas' betrayal and Christ's crucifixion that completely contradict the existing gospels. But the execution is brief and minor, skipping across a lot of key connective material to draw some elaborate but disjointed sketches about the books' reception and its effect on the man who found it. It feels like so much is missing here — any ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jun 22, 2009 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it it was ok
Underwhelming. I like my satire more scathing and my humour, well, funnier.

This book needed to be at least twice as long, with a slower build-up and many more scenes of the damage Theo Grippen's book was causing to the faithful. It needed detail...everywhere, but especially the ending, which frankly left me believing that Faber petered out and/or chickened out.

As it was, I'm left with the thought that The Fire Gospel's real-life editor and publisher must have demanded the plot be sanitized; so
Apr 10, 2009 Jason rated it did not like it
Very disappointed in this book; it had immense potential for a scathing commentary on current media marketing and religious lassitude. Unfortunately, the characters were rather pat (loser breaking up with his girlfriend, nutty Christians) and there was little else to offer. The plot moves quickly, but takes some rather unbelievable jumps. Also, the "translations" offered by the main character of the Book of Malchus simply don't read well. The problem is, if Faber intended this as a wry ...more
John Champneys
Apr 26, 2011 John Champneys rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, satire
I purchase this over the Christmas period as a present to myself, after liking the review, and because it was going for such a bargain price. As soon as I'd done that, I squirreled it away in the archives and forgot all about it.
I'd previously been reading my way through The Diviner's Tale by Bradford Morrow, and was feeling soggy and saturated by the time I'd reached the end and as I was looking for something short and cheery I felt this Fire Gospel might just be the thing to dry me out and war
Rich Stoehr
May 12, 2014 Rich Stoehr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"We speak of things that cannot be spoken."

I never really know what to expect from Michel Faber, but whatever he does, he invariably does it well.

In other hands, this story could be (and has been before) turned to long and meandering tales of ancient conspiracy, or eloquent statements about the nature of religion and belief. But for Faber, The Fire Gospel is sharp and funny and spare, poking fun at the modern businesses of publishing and journalism, exposing the inevitable conflict between faith
Heidi Ward
I really liked this book. I wanted to really love it. It had all the hallmarks of the sort of philoso-satire I tend to enjoy. The idea of an earnest, if a little duplicitous, academic causing a history-exploding breach in the world's major (and most troublesome) faiths is awesome. "The Fifth Gospel," the newly-discovered and translated Aramaic book-within-the-book that starts all the hubbub is both funny and humane. The satiric skewering of fanatics (of both the religious and Dan-Brown-loving ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Nikki rated it did not like it
Fifty percent of the way through this book, I just started skimming it. The main character is not particularly sympathetic, and there's no one else really of note in that time, and the plot itself is pretty well-trodden. The myth it's supposedly based on doesn't really make an appearance in that half, either -- I normally like the Canongate series, at least as light reading, but really, not a fan of this one.

It isn't exactly fast-paced, and there's more than a whiff of male wish-fulfilment surro
Jan 25, 2009 Nightfalltwen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I went into this book with very high expectations because I simply adored Michel Faber's book The Crimson Petal and the White. This book didn't disappoint at all. It's a thin book, which is rather nice because TCPATW is such a dense and meaty read. Yet Faber's writing just pulls you right into the story from the beginning.

I highly recommend this.
Feb 01, 2009 Alfonso rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: an ape
Shelves: fiction, home-library
**********Spoiler Alert*********

This book had so much potential and it let me down. Faber is great with description and even though I did not like the book his writing kept me moving along. I know that the book is fictional, yet I was not able to believe the premise of the story and did not care for the character. First I had a problem with the fact that he happened to be an expert in Aramaic who finds these lost gospels in Aramaic after in explosion in an Iraqi museum and then he is able to smu
Katie Gerrard
Mar 13, 2011 Katie Gerrard rated it it was amazing
This is a short novel at 224 pages, but I think the story lends itself well to the size and you don't at any point feel that the narrative is moving on too quickly or isn't developed enough. The story covers an academic who, whilst visiting war torn Iraq to try and look after some of the artefacts, discovers by chance some scrolls. Worrying for their safety, and with his personal life in turmoil, he steals them. When he begins working on the translation of the stolen scrolls he finds that he has ...more
Jun 26, 2016 Kath rated it did not like it
This was a huge disappointment. It's part of the Canongate myth series; however, it was not a retelling of an old myth. It was a new story about a fifth book of the Gospels, written by Malchus, a former servant of the high priest Caiaphus. Malchus is traditionally believed to have had his ear cut of by Peter, a disciple of Jesus. The manuscript of Malchus has been discovered by a scholar who goes through difficult times after he convinces a publisher to read his book. I'm disappointed because ...more
Aug 03, 2016 Melanti rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion, cannongate, 2016
I'm not a huge "silly" fan to begin with...

Add in a historically inaccurate text, an implausible premise, and a complete disregard for the existence of apocryphal texts and you've got a book I didn't like in the slightest.

There's a couple of decent bits in there - particularly some jokes about the ridiculousness of our news media - but that wasn't nearly enough to save the book in my eyes.
Ludmila Kovaříková
Nov 17, 2015 Ludmila Kovaříková rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ostatni
Snad celou knihu myslel jako vtip. Ironický podtón ukazuje přihlouplé reakce na objev nového evangelia (komentáře na Amazonu, křesťané, únosci spřádající šílené teorie o vlivu knihy, očekávaná sebevražda kvůli ztrátě smyslu víry...). Ale kdo vlastně Malchusovi rozumí, proč vlastně i přes jiná slova na kříži uvěřil? Škoda že dvojsmysly na začátku knihy se pomalu vytrácely.
Dec 20, 2015 Annelies rated it it was ok
Shelves: english
Myths generally have a quality that lifts you up to a state of 'willing suspension of disbelief'. This particular work does that and then drops you like a sack of potatoes into the 'real' world of Amazon reviews.
What follows is some halfhearted start of a thriller, which is bluntly cut off. It feels like the second half of a novel is missing.
Jan 02, 2015 Simon rated it did not like it
Well, that was kind of lame.
Nov 09, 2016 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely sojourn into the world of translations and publishing. The moral of the story is, careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Jan 08, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
full review!

Michel Faber's slim novella The Fire Gospel is part of a collection of novellas called The Canongate Myth Series, featuring modern retellings of ancient myths. The Fire Gospel is inspired by the Greek Titan Prometheus, who introduced humankind to fire and lived to regret it. The subtitle of this work reminded me instantly of Frankenstein, and I was wary of Faber trying to outdo that text or become overly influenced by it, but this concern was unfounded because
Jan 22, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Full review here.
If you wanted to be churlish, you might accuse Canongate of slightly cheating when it comes to this novel. Clocking in at 200ish pages of large, wide margined text in hardback, this is really more of a novella, and has much more of a short story feel than something like The Crimson Petal and the White, or even Under the Skin (his first novel, which was adapted from a short story – a fact that becomes kind of apparent with a bit of a panicky, tacked on ending, even while the whol
Jul 11, 2014 Mark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2009 Gerund rated it liked it
AT first glance, The Fire Gospel looks like the latest in the inslaught of Da Vinci Code-type historical thrillers about dashing professors who save the world by solving ancient mysteries.

But that would be underestimating author Michel Faber, whose bestselling 2003 novel The Crimson Petal And The White tuned the Victorian novel on its head. In The Fire Gospel, he destroys all of Dan Brown's novelistic conventions in this darkly funny send-up of the genre.

Meet potbellied, grumpy, freshly-dumped T
The Fire Gospel ~ Michel Faber
The Fire Gospel is a very modern take on the story of Prometheus. According to Wikipedia, Prometheus "stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals for their use. Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while an eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day".

Aramaic scholar Theo Griepenkerl stumbles upon an ancient manuscript when an Iraqi museum he is visiting is bombed. That manuscript is a supposed
Josh Ang
Jan 25, 2011 Josh Ang rated it it was ok
This is a daring novel that imagines what it would be like if a new Gospel is discovered in this day and age. What kind of impact would it have on Christianity, the other religious beliefs, especially when it throws into doubt the apostles' accounts about what actually happened at Jesus's crucifixion on Golgotha, and ultimately the Resurrection.

The narrative traces how the lost scrolls by an undocumented disciple, Malchus, (formerly Capahaias' spy involved in Judas's betrayal of Jesus) is disco
Roy Elmer
The Canongate Myths series is on the whole excellent. There are some exceptions to the rule, but in general, each entry in the series is an excellent work in its own right, tackling some difficult themes using the power of myth and legend retold for a modern audience. I've read a few of these over the years: Lion's Honey, the Penelopaeid, Ragnarok, and the Fire Gospel is right up there with them.

I think what impressed me was the economical use of language employed to craft a tale that was at onc
Woe Prometheus who brought the puny, cold, shivering humans fire to warm themselves, stolen from the gods, by no means intended for the non-divine fleshed mortals. Woe Theo Griepenkerl who brings a lost Gospel to the hordes of Christianity, a very human document recounting the last days of Jesus, as told by Malchus, not touched by the mythic alterations and connections of the later accepted Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Sealed away, revealed by an Iraqi bomb and a happenstance of plac
Dec 16, 2014 Sorcha added it
Shelves: 2014
This is a short book, at 210 pages (Ironically - perhaps knowingly - matching the book's internal publisher who states that "The Fifth Gospel .... with wide margins and large spacing").

Theo is an academic, a translator of Aramaic, who believes - rightly or wrongly - that he's the best in the West, and probably the East too. He is remarkably un-self-aware, whilst also self-centred, so does not care for the curator of the Mosul museum, even after the man gets himself blown up whilst escorting Theo
St Fu
Jul 13, 2015 St Fu rated it really liked it
I read this while also reading The Great Partnership (which I haven't yet finished) after finishing The Book of Strange New Things. So, I was (and still am) immersed in religion, but this is really more of a book about publishing and the book industry.

Books used to be significant things. The Bible didn't start off competing with crime fiction and didn't get liked on the internet but was a compendium of everything that was considered worth saying at the time. It didn't have a genre, or an author.
Sep 23, 2016 Kelly rated it really liked it
Really interesting and engaging shorter read!
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Michel Faber (born 13 April 1960) is a Dutch writer of English-language fiction.

Faber was born in The Hague, The Netherlands. He and his parents emigrated to Australia in 1967. He attended primary and secondary school in the Melbourne suburbs of Boronia and Bayswater, then attended the University Of Melbourne, studying Dutch, Philosophy, Rhetoric, English Language (a course involving translation a
More about Michel Faber...

Other Books in the Series

Canongate Myth Series (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • A Short History of Myth
  • The Penelopiad
  • Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles
  • The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
  • Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson
  • Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams
  • Anna In w grobowcach świata
  • Girl Meets Boy
  • Binu and the Great Wall
  • Where Three Roads Meet: The Myth of Oedipus

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