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King Jesus

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  719 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
King Jesus, long out of print, is one of the most controversial historical novels of all time. In it, Robert Graves has summoned his superb narrative powers, his painstaking scholarship, his wit and unsurpassed ability to recreate the past, to produce a magnificant portrayal of the life of Christ on earth.
Paperback, 418 pages
Published October 1st 1981 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1946)
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Guy Cabell This Mary is only described as the daughter of Cleopas, who was Joachim's brother-in-law, Joachim being father of Mary, the mother of Jesus. How she…moreThis Mary is only described as the daughter of Cleopas, who was Joachim's brother-in-law, Joachim being father of Mary, the mother of Jesus. How she was chosen as Jesus's wife wasn't clear in what I read.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,625)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
Robert Graves gives this work of historical fiction an intriguing premise. He presents Jesus not as the offspring of a divine being, born of a virgin birth, but as the very mortal son of Mary and Antipater, the eldest son of King Herod the Great. Herod had a nasty tendency to eliminate family members who crossed him without much of a hearing. Antipater fell victim to this paranoia, and was executed just before Herod’s death. Antipater’s death left Jesus as the rightful heir to the terrestrial ki ...more
Apr 19, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given


O four stars of wonder, five stars of night,
Stars with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

It was amazing. Lying in bed. The kids all tucked in. Christmas Eve, and I'm reading 'King Jesus'. I finally put this sucker to bed last night at about 1:00 am. Sugar plums weren't dancing in my head ... rather parables and planets (Ninib, Marduk, Nergal) and Essenes (אִסִּיִים), oh my, floated and danced in
Ioannis Anastasiadis
Όπως ο Καζαντζάκης στο ‘Τελευταίο Πειρασμό’ κ ο Σαραμαγκου στο ‘Κατά Ιησουν Ευαγγέλιον’’ έτσι κ ο Robert Graves εξιστορεί το δικό του αφήγημα με επίκεντρο την ζωή και τα έργα του Ιησού Χριστού, βασισμένο σε ενδελεχή ιστορική ερευνά όχι μόνο στα επίσημα κ ανεπίσημα Ευαγγέλια και την Βίβλο, αλλά λαμβάνοντας υπόψη κ της Μυθολογία και τις Θρησκευτικές παραδόσεις των αρχαίων Εθνών πριν την έλευση του ‘’Μεσσία’’ .. Συνοπτικά, ο Ιησούς παρουσιάζεται ως Βασιλικός γόνος κ εγγονός του μοχθηρού Ηρώδη και ν ...more
1 Christopherus, unto the church of Goodreads: peace be with you.

2 I write this epistle to you on the occasion of my completion of Robert Graves' scroll King Jesus, being an historical but also novelistic account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

3 Not having read his masterpiece, I, Claudius, or any of his other works, I was a virgin to his style of combining history with imagination; but having read this, I remain unimpressed.

4 The problem with King Jesus lies in the way it straddles the supern
Erik Graff
May 23, 2015 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Robert Graves
Shelves: literature
This is by far my favorite Robert Graves novel--and I like his historical novels very much generally. My original copy was the one published by the Readers Digest Press in hardcover.

As once a bit of a scholar of the gospel narratives and ancillary texts, I was struck by the way Graves plausibly weaved together strands of tradition to reconstruct an historical Jesus with a temporal right to the throne of Judaea and, thus, a Jesus who actually constituted enough of a threat to the Empire and templ
Elijah Kinch Spector
[Cross-posted on my blog, with bonus Robert-Graves-Looking-Crazy!]
When the words "KING JESUS" in huge letters peek out at you from the bookshelves of a weird used bookstore, you notice. Or at least, I do, especially when it’s the weekend before Christmas. Even though I’ve never been a Christian. But it was the perfect kind of pre-Christmas day. Coldly sunny outside, warm and welcoming in the bookstore/café, and there were actual carolers doing a little performance. A really good one!

So they sa
Sep 11, 2010 Elaine rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 12, 2009 Terence rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Graves fans, biblically inspired fiction fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian Fileman
Aug 05, 2012 Brian Fileman rated it really liked it

I first read this as an early edition hard-back in the mid 80's. It is Graves at his best and, at times, most weird. He gives an original and fairly plausible alternative to the generally accepted religious view of Jesus. I doubt the 'true believer' will like it or get past the opening chapter: a recommendation in itself. Although not as instantly readable as 'I Clavdivs' and requiring far more effort from the reader, King Jesus is still a book that deserves a far wider readership than it has re
Fred Kohn
Feb 25, 2015 Fred Kohn rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best alt history of Jesus that I have read. It would be great fun to reverse engineer this book. I noticed several borrowings from the Christian deuterocanonical books, some of which Graves acknowledges in his very brief historical note at the end. In that same note he apologizes for not writing a more thorough acknowledgement of his sources, with the excuse that such an acknowledgement would be longer than the book itself!

I do have some minor quibbles with the book. It takes
Mar 17, 2012 Howard rated it really liked it
The origins of St. Patrick's Day remain a mystery after this one, but I enjoyed reading this quite a lot. Very sympathetic to the traditional villains in the Passion tale, because of Graves' apparent understanding of Jewish customs and traditions, laws and celebrations. This novel is overtly hostile to Christian theology, just as Graves' other historical novels (I, Claudius, Count Belisarius, to name the two I've read) seem written primarily for the purpose of correcting annoying misconceptions ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Roger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many ways to describe this fascinating book: dense, evocative, learned, and certainly blasphemous. Robert Graves has written a life of Jesus that takes literally the claim that he was the King of the Jews and David's rightful heir, while at the same time not denying his holiness and power.

The story starts with King Herod and his murderous ways, and with Mary being secretly married to Herod Antipater, who leaves her with child before heading to Rome and execution. The child of this unio
Guy Cabell
Jun 12, 2016 Guy Cabell rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating alternative version of the story of Jesus by the incomparable Robert Graves, who spent a lifetime studying Roman history and literature along with the history and literature of the peoples that the Romans conquered. It attempts to create a much more believable story than that told in the four accepted Gospels, starting with the problem of Pontius Pilate saying that he could find no sin in Jesus when he said he was "King of the Jews" (only the Romans could appoint kings of t ...more
Roberta Amato
Jan 11, 2014 Roberta Amato rated it it was amazing
Jesus Rex è la versione dei fatti dei vangeli “secondo Robert Graves”, una rivisitazione mitopoietica della figura di Cristo. Il lavoro di Graves è pervaso della sua convinzione che la religione e il mito registrino la storia della vittoria delle religioni a prevalenza maschile a danno della religione originaria della Dea, (idea ripresa nella Dea Bianca); l’incipit del libro è appunto una citazione di Clemente Alessandrino. Graves coglie l’aspetto più inquietante del Cristianesimo, citando il Va ...more
David Seals
Sep 10, 2012 David Seals rated it it was amazing
Jul 25, 2011 David rated it really liked it
This book stirred up controversy when it was published and it was a fascinating read.
Billie Pritchett
Robert Graves's King Jesus is not a good book, I don't think. Or better put, I just didn't enjoy it. Now, I've read two other of his books a long time ago, I, Claudius and Claudius the God. Those books were terrific. They embellished the story of the Roman Emperor Claudius, turning him into a great emperor who wanted to do well by Rome but who was undermined by those around him. There's none of that fun in this book.

In King Jesus, Graves tells a version of the story where Jesus is the literal so
Jul 28, 2012 Nathan rated it really liked it
Is there anything Robert Graves CAN'T do?
Aug 25, 2012 David rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 15, 2015 Sylveey rated it it was amazing
An outstanding book that is very provocative for those who study religions. As someone who at one point in my life taught Christian doctrine, I found this book to be implying the obvious. Those who see beyond the veneer of modern fantasy believed by the masses to be "the believers" truth. It provides enough source material for one to pillage through and possibly discover other obscurities not readily known. Graves certainly gives you plenty to think about, and this is something I appreciate.
Apr 01, 2016 Andrea added it
King Jesus is a completely different perspective on the story of the new testament, informed by Graves wide study of pre-christian stories and myths, and his reading of such texts as remain. What emerges is Jesus as sacrificial king, in the tradition of James Fraser and the Golden Bough. Well worth reading, in my opinion, although committed fundamentalist christians had better avoid it.
Alberto Delgado
La recreación de la vida de jesús de nazareth por parte de robert graves no alcanza el nivel de su famosa yo claudio pero no deja de ser interesante leer las hipótesis que plantea sobre lo que pudo ser la vida de el personaje histórico más influyente de los últimos dos milenios se sea creyente o no.
Theodore Kinni
Jan 20, 2016 Theodore Kinni rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
In this retelling of the life of Jesus, Graves rejects the virgin birth and makes him a prince and heir to Herod's throne by birth. But the author gets bogged down in arcane historical and scriptural detail and, ultimately, the book doesn't measure up to his best stuff
Tiene un buen principio, pero la lectura se hace muy farragosa cuando interpreta varios aspectos bíblicos o religiosos, como si fuese un estudio religioso. Con la aparición del personaje de Jesús esto se acentúa haciendo la lectura muy difícil y fatigosa.
Aaron Godinez
Sep 29, 2014 Aaron Godinez rated it really liked it
Atrevido pero bastantante interesante. ¿La premisa? Jesús no era ningún Hijo de Dios, sino el heredero legítimo de la Casa de David y la Dinastía Herodiana. Él es presentado como un profeta carismático y notable, pero nada fuera de lo sobrenatural.
Jan 26, 2008 Andres rated it it was amazing
Este libro es una reconstrucción histórica muy interesante de la historia más polémica que se ha contado. Con el conocimiento de un erudito, Graves reelabora los hilos conductores de la historia y contextualiza algunos de los hechos históricos que rodearon al nacimiento de Jesús, y arroja sobre la luz algunas de las teorías más interesantes que se han manejado alrededor de un hito histórico que ha definido la historia de occidente.

Es un texto que merece ser leído con atención, aunque algunas vec
Lynne Pfeiffer
I liked it, but many would not.
Aug 03, 2011 Glenn added it
Really fascinating novel that asks the question: 'what if Jesus, rather than being a mystical and magical figure, was actually the secret grandson of Herod and a descendant of King David's, thus the rightful heir to the Jewish throne?'

This book sucks you in as much as Graves' other novels 'I, Claudius' and 'Claudius the God', though perhaps a little more dense and trying at times. The ideas are really quite clever and thought provoking. I'd take Graves' logical and entertaining conclusions over
Mar 09, 2014 Magica rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
heretic but well written
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Caesar, Jesus, and Herod (!) 2 6 Dec 30, 2012 10:47AM  
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Robert Ranke Graves, born in Wimbledon, received his early education at King's College School and Copthorne Prep School, Wimbledon & Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to St John's College, Oxford. While at Charterhouse in 1912, he fell in love with G. H. Johnstone, a boy of fourteen ("Dick" in Goodbye to All That) When challenged by the headmaster he defended himself by citing Plato, G ...more
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