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The Liars' Gospel

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,790 ratings  ·  288 reviews
This is the 2013 Granta Best Young British Novelist.

"A visceral retelling of the events surrounding the life of Jesus". (Hilary Mantel, Guardian, Books of the Year).

'He was a traitor, a rabble-leader, a rebel, a liar and a pretender to the throne. We have tried to forget him here.'

Now, a year after Yehoshuah's death, four people tell their stories. His mother flashes be
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 25th 2013 by Penguin Books (first published August 30th 2012)
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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
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer Stephens
Jun 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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)
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
Samuel Rood
Jun 07, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
interesting novel surrounding the life of Jesus and split into 4 different versions, took me awhile to get into this novel maybe it was the subject title.
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
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
Ayala Levinger
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly loved this book. The writing is magnificent, her characters are incredibly fleshed out with their own voices.

Miryam, mother of Yehoshua. Mourning, keening, melodramatically loving her firstborn son. Even as I shook my head, I completely sympathized with her mother's love. You know the type, she loves her son despite his faults. When he turns away from her she misses him. She mourns his loss when he leaves home; long before he is hung on the cross. I felt her sorrow and her love. It crus
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
Jul 05, 2013 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,
Brent Soderstrum
Feb 10, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 13, 2013 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
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 hist ...more
Roger Brunyate
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Ma
Margaret Houston
Aug 21, 2013 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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 f
Katy Kelly
Feb 06, 2017 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
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Virginia Rounding
Aug 31, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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). ...more
Shulin Raja
Nov 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every hero has their flaws. Kennedy was a debauchee—if to say the absolute least about a philandering womanizer—who engaged in multiple affairs, Gandhi was a bedlematic cousin-molesting pedophile, Malcolm was a brazen anti-semite who freely associated with violence (there is a reason why we mainly teach only MLK Jr. to schoolchildren), Beauvoir actually brought an underage student of hers to Sartre for the two of them to exploit and rape (which is why she was suspended from her teaching position ...more
Alyssia Cooke
The Liars' Gospel is a fascinating glance into Israel under Roman occupation and the story of Jesus from four different perspectives. Was he the Messiah or a madman? Alderman’s characters often aren’t sure or just don’t care as they contend with their own complicated lives in the wake of Roman rule and Israeli rebellion.

Alderman takes three very different characters all at the heart of Jesus's story; his mother Mary, the rebel and freedom fighter Barabbas, the high priest Caiaphas and the trait
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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

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