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The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  9,233 Ratings  ·  1,198 Reviews
This is a story. In this ingenious and spell-binding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told. Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turne ...more
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published April 1st 2010 (first published December 4th 2009)
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Open Mind...Hey Big C, what's up?

Controversy: I’ve got another book review to do and this one could be a MAJOR PROBLEMO so I was really hoping you could help me out and be there when I post it.

Open Mind: Of course, you know I’m always glad to assist if my being present will help people get through one of your reviews.

Controversy: Believe me OM, without you there, this review is doomsville before it begins. Without you, we would have Inflammatory Rhetoric
showing up, with or witho
Tom Doggett
May 26, 2010 Tom Doggett rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
I liked this book far more than I thought I would, and after I was finished couldn't help but say the same thing I said after finishing the "His Dark Materials" trilogy upon the recommendation of a friend: was I *supposed* to like this?

The book is, of course, a retelling of the familiar Gospel story of Jesus of Nazareth but told from a modern perspective, understanding and commenting on everything good and especially bad that Christianity has become. Setting aside, for the moment, the question o
Riku Sayuj

Well played, Pullman.

Philip Pullman meets Alyosha and tells him his story.

Alyosha flushed. ‘But... that’s absurd!' he cried. 'Your poem is in praise of Jesus, not in blame of Him — as you meant it to be. And who will believe you about freedom? Is that the way to understand it? That’s not the idea of it in the Orthodox Church.... That’s Rome, and not even the whole of Rome, it’s false - those are the worst of the Catholics, the Inquisitors, the Jesuits!..'

Later Ivan came storming into Pullman's f
Mar 01, 2013 Manny rated it really liked it
Recommended to Manny by: Yllacaspia
The night after his book was published, Philip dreamed that he met Jesus. He was dressed all in white, sitting at a table on which there was a bottle of wine, two glasses and a copy of Philip's novel.

"Please explain it to me," said Jesus politely.

The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)
Nandakishore Varma
Jul 28, 2015 Nandakishore Varma rated it liked it
An interesting premise which was badly executed.

Those who have studied the persona of Jesus Christ will be puzzled at an apparent contradiction. Jesus was a rebel: he revolted against the priestly dictatorship of Judaism, made a mockery of its bureaucratic institutions and changed its concept of a vengeful and angry God into a benevolent one. Jesus was reforming Judaism in a way which threatened to change its very structure when he was betrayed by his own people and killed by the Roman authoriti
Paul Bryant

So, another one of your beloved pop theology books, hey?

This time a novel.

More of a fable.

An ironical retelling.

Yes, but to what purpose? Let’s cut to the chase here, leaving out the dubious legerdemain of having Christ be Jesus’ evil twin – sorry, “conflicted” twin. Mr Pullman suggests that Jesus was a crazy idealist, that his extreme ideas about the Kingdom of God, which he thought would arrive in the next week or so, and his frankly b
Oct 05, 2013 Ammar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting retelling of the Bible through the Myth Series. Pullman a known atheist tackles the story of the bible. How stories become stories , how sometimes people add glamour and elaborate details to put them in a good light.

The story told from the view of an intersting narrator , a twin of Jesus called Christ. The runt of the litter of the holy family. Who hears the voice of God, sees the dove, feel the holy spirit and the one who saved Jesus from many problems growing up, yet gets neglecte
Come Back Alfred, We Love You

In 1904 the French Catholic theologian, Alfred Loisy, published a book called L'Evangile et l'Eglise, The Gospel and the Church. In it he pithily phrases the central fact of early Christianity: "Jesus foretold the Kingdom, but it was the Church that came." Loisy was attempting to refute the individualism of the Protestant theologian, Adolf Harnack, by pointing to the historical necessity of an ecclesial organisation. For his trouble, he was censured and eventually ex
Philip Pullman's book based on the life of Jesus has garnered quite a lot of angry reviews and controversy. Some people have even decided that they don't need for him to die and be judged by their god to know that he's "going to hell" -- they can judge that for themselves, in their infinite wisdom! The problem seems to be that Pullman, like many people in the modern world, doesn't believe the stories of the Bible are anything more or less than the stories that come to us from Ancient Greece or R ...more
Sep 27, 2011 Maciek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone with an open mind
" A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse."

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

"It is not His teachings which make Jesus so remarkable, although these would be enough to give Him distinction. It is a combinati
Tamora Pierce
May 09, 2010 Tamora Pierce rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, adult
When I heard about Philip Pullman's new book, I thought the witch fires would soon be lit in the U.K. and here, but having read it, I think that if there's an outcry, it will be mostly because of the title. The book is a cool, considerate allegory about a pair of brothers. It invites the reader to thought rather than hysteria. I suspect it's the non-readers who will be inclined to hysteria, if they hear of it.

His premise: two sons are born to Mary (who may or may not have been visited by an ange
Jun 15, 2010 Kim rated it liked it
The concept behind this book is that Jesus was actually a twin - that there was one baby named Jesus and one named Christ. It is a 4 star concept, but panned out to be only a three star book. Jesus is the twin who goes out and preaches and tries to help people and Christ is the one who is more interested in establishing a religion/church. I thought the author did a nice job using familiar bible stories and retelling them in a different way -- showing how Jesus saw things versus how his brother C ...more
Madhurabharatula Pranav Rohit Kasinath
The Goodman Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a work of utterly dark, disturbing and moving beauty and not as controversial as its provocative title might have you believe. The biblical world that Philip Pullman populates with his all too human characters is rich in its simplicity and heart breaking in its ability to portray one man who has influenced history and religion; in such a very human light.
The basic premise that Pullman works from is this – Jesus had a twin brother called Christ. Jesu
Lakis Fourouklas
Oct 12, 2011 Lakis Fourouklas rated it it was ok
Ok, here it goes! I really looked forward to reading this book and when I finally did I felt nothing more than disappointed; almost cheated. I don’t know; maybe I got carried away by the title and expected too much, but in whatever way you put it I didn’t expect so little. There’s one thing that I know for sure: this is the worst work by the author that I’ve ever read. That’s maybe because it was an order-to-write kind of book, or perhaps because he didn’t bother to work too hard for it, or just ...more
Dan Thompson
I'm not a religious man. I think I should make that very clear, but a book review is no place for me to argue my stance on that. I do think it is fair to say however, that the mythology of religion appeals to me more than the actual spirituality of it. Of course, people who know me will also know that Philip Pullman is my favourite author, and with his often vocal stance on religion, I thought his 2010 release, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ would make for a fascinating read. The bl ...more
Initially I wanted to give this little novel 2 stars, for I wasn’t overly impressed by it. I have to be fair though. My expectations were definitely far off target and outside the author’s intention.

I expected to read an ironic and sarcastic retelling of the New Testament, which of course, after reading it, I realized was not the case. Because of my unfulfilled expectations I liked this book (probably) less than I would have otherwise. Still, I have chosen to give this book 3 stars, because I r
Jun 11, 2012 J. rated it it was ok
I heard this book described a bunch of times as "subversive," but it was a major letdown on that count. About 60% of it is quoted verbatim from the gospels, which I've read. The remaining changes are mostly of the bizarre, rather than insightful, kind, like having Jesus rebuke Martha instead of Mary--what's the significance? The major plot twist, of course, is that Jesus is a pair of twins, Jesus and Christ. Jesus is the human, passionate, provocative, spiritual half while Christ is the intellig ...more
Jun 26, 2010 Kim rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010, fiction
A couple of things:
1. This is a novel. It should not been seen as anything but.
2. If you think you might be offended by this book, don't read it.
3. Philip Pullman doesn't like organized religion (specifically Christian/Catholic), so if you're a big fan of organized religion and are offended by any criticism of Christianity (which, lets face it, has had a lot of really bad stuff done in it's name), please don't read this book. It would only serve to upset you &, really, what is the point o
May 19, 2012 Gail rated it it was ok
Shelves: small-things
I came to The good man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ having read the His dark materials trilogy but found none of the withering thought provoking criticism of the power afforded to organised religion in those works here. Pulman’s retelling of the story of Christ felt a little juvenile and little lazy. It added nothing salient to the weary debate about the value and nature of religion, and at times felt like little more than an unnecessary and cheap point scoring exercise.

Of course Philip Pulman
Beth Anne
May 01, 2011 Beth Anne rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one.

i was actually quite disappointed in this book. i expect more from pullman, and i feel like this was written to try to insight anger and controversy...but with really no payoff.

i'm not sure what i wanted out of this...but i can tell you what i didn't want, but got:

1. basically the entire story of the gospels paraphrased into a 145 page book, with some minor bullshit changes that really didn't cause me to think or question or even mildly ponder anything about religion.
2. a story of twin bo
May 01, 2010 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, c21st, 10review
I wanted to like this book because I think it’s brave, and I think its premise is valid. One of the reviews I checked out since reading TGMJATSC tells me that it was commissioned as part of a series where authors were asked to re-imagine well-known myths and I like the idea of that because that’s what story-tellers have always done. Even with my limited familiarity with the Gospels I can tell that there’s scholarly research underlying Pullman’s work, and his blending and reworking of the Christi ...more
Very pleased to be able to read something by Pullman that is good after putting down the third volume of Northern Lights way before the end.

The subject matter, the treatment and the title were all likely to put me off, but S-L highly recommended it and Manny read it in a sitting - despite the scintillating option of chatting to the knitters. That sold me.
Jun 05, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in how myths or stories come to be, and how they shape our views of "truth."
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Koen Crolla
Apr 19, 2010 Koen Crolla rated it really liked it
Credit should be given to Canongate and its Myth Series for having the spine to include Christian mythology in a series which also includes such twits as Karen Armstrong. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a retelling of the Jesus myth, with the twist that Jesus Christ was actually two people: Jesus and his twin brother who is nicknamed Christ. This sounds pretty lame, and to be honest, it sort of is. It's still Pullman, though, so it's alright. And if you disagree, at least it's sho ...more
Jason Mills
Aug 22, 2010 Jason Mills rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Adherents and decriers of scriptural religion
Recommended to Jason by: Coggy!
Shelves: fiction, period
For a start, this is an easy and quick read. It's linear, has few characters and is written in plain language, so the pages turn themselves.

Pullman rehashes the gospels, turning the story of Jesus into an allegory about the dangers of scripture itself and its role as the foundation of authoritarian religion. In his tale, Jesus is a passionate, wilful, uncompromising preacher, whose 'miracles' are entirely metaphorical, whilst his unknown twin Christ is a pragmatist and scribbler, keen to massage
Mar 30, 2010 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whenever I think about the Bible, I am always fascinated by the double nature of the book. You have sinners in the hand of an angry god along with gentle men who call children to their side. You have the Old Testament and the New Testament, the sometimes conflicting Gospels, the rules that outline simple faith.

In The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman has taken that duality and made it entirely physical. Rather than Jesus reflecting the sometimes conflicting nature of our ow
Mar 21, 2013 F.R. rated it liked it
Philip Pullman is a subtle and clever serpent. In ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’, he sets about demolishing the tenants of the (Catholic) church through the re-telling the gospel. Although this is no Python-esque hunt for absurdities, nor is it an angry rant in the Richard Dawkins style, instead the tale is told almost straight – but with the miracles placed in a more realistic setting. So the immaculate conception becomes a lascivious con-trick, bread and fishes losing all myster ...more
May 10, 2010 Ronan rated it it was ok
I sort of wanted to like this book, if only so I could resist the holy religious outrage which often accompanies anything written by the pop atheists nowadays. Religions would most of the time be better off confronting the abuses of faith that are pilloried by people such as Pullman, rather than pretending they don’t exist.

Of course, this assumes that said pillories have merit. Alas for Angry Atheism, Pullman’s retelling of the Jesus story lacks the bite necessary to be taken seriously as a grow
Jun 14, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For somebody who had obviously done his homework on religious literature for The Amber Spyglass, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is an incredibly simplistic retelling, and I say this as somebody with a pretty limited Sunday School grasp of the Biblical stories, plus whatever you pick up in English Lit class along the way. I wasn’t offended by it in a religious sense, but I really thought it smacked of a kind of adolescent storytelling – ‘Wouldn’t it blow everybody’s minds if Jesus wa ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Nnedi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well that was the most fun I've ever had reading about "The Good Man Jesus". :-). Quite an interesting take. I especially loved when Pullman went on a veiled rant near the end. That had me rather riveted, lol. A good read and discussion/argument catalyst for Christians and non-Christians alike.
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In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards ...more
More about Philip Pullman...

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“Lord, if I thought you were listening, I'd pray for this above all: that any church set up in your name should remain poor, and powerless, and modest. That it should wield no authority except that of love. That it should never cast anyone out. That it should own no property and make no laws. That it should not condemn, but only forgive.” 47 likes
“Lord, if I thought you were listening, I'd pray for this above all: that any church set up in your name should remain poor, and powerless, and modest. That it should wield no authority except that of love. That it should never cast anyone out. That it should own no property and make no laws. That it should not condemn, but only forgive. That it should be not like a palace with marble walls and polished floors, and guards standing at the door, but like a tree with its roots deep in the soil, that shelters every kind of bird and beast and gives blossom in the spring and shade in the hot sun and fruit in the season, and in time gives up its good sound wood for the carpenter; but that sheds many thousands of seeds so that new trees can grow in its place. Does the tree say to the sparrow, 'Get out, you don't belong here?' Does the tree say to the hungry man, 'This fruit is not for you?' Does the tree test the loyalty of the beasts before it allows them into the shade?” 23 likes
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