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The Fire Gospel

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,358 ratings  ·  166 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 E…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)

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Average rating 3.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,358 ratings  ·  166 reviews

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Oct 28, 2013 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
This was a fun, if slight, read, and my introduction to both Michael Faber and the Canongate Myths series. The myth it reinterprets is that of Prometheus, who suffered the daily punishment of having his liver torn out by an eagle for having given fire to humanity. I'm sure you can excavate mythic strands of meaning if you're so inclined, but my experience of this novella was pretty superficial and that was enough to enjoy my brief time with it.

Canadian Aramaic scholar Theo Griepenkerl steals nin
Jan 26, 2011 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 startl ...more
Tasha Robinson
Oct 31, 2014 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 attem ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Dec 21, 2008 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
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
Rich Stoehr
May 10, 2014 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
Oct 10, 2018 added it
Shelves: new-in-2018
An interesting what-if? little novel on the subject of a gospel written by someone who actually knew Jesus (and who flatly contradicts a number of details found in the canonical gospels) as translated and brought into the present by a Canadian academic of sorts who is wholly unprepared for what happens once the book is published. Lots of contemporary fanaticism and bandwagoning, Amazon listings, book tours, threats, etc. The ending is sufficiently ambiguous to allow each reader to conclude accor ...more
Apr 10, 2009 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 commentar ...more
Jan 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Well, that was kind of lame.
John Champneys
Mar 02, 2011 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
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 va ...more
Jan 03, 2011 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 22, 2009 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.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up.

Part of the Canongate Myth Series, The Fire Gospel is a modern adaptation of Prometheus. An academic has smuggled a new and unknown gospel out of Iraq and we follow his rise and fall from grace in the hands of the publishing world and Christian fanatics. The main character is painted out to be a materialistic, self-serving man with illusions that he is doing good for mankind.

A quick paced and interesting read. Looking forward to finding more Canongate Myths books!
Dec 15, 2008 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 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 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 th ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love Michel Faber's is captivating and pleasurable to read. While this book is not on the same level as The Book of Strange New a Things, it still has that quality which makes me want to re-read Faber's sentences, paragraphs, or even whole chapters. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I recommend it to anyone who loves this author. I started with The Crimson Petal and the White, and I was hooked. I am reading all his previous books, and this one did not disappoint.
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, cannongate, religion
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.
Mar 21, 2014 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.
This book was an awful lot of fun, and had its share of surprises. Very satisfying read. I'd likely have rated it more generously if it hadn't been by Michel Faber. For him, this felt a little lightweight. It does, however, get an effluvia rating of five stars!
Apr 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
I read this all the way through, hoping it would improve, but it didn't. Maybe I missed the point.

So many things in the story were preposterous. In real life, would he have got the scrolls through customs? Would he have translated all nine scrolls from Aramaic in one week? Would the glamorous editor really have slept with him? Would any sensible scholar have stolen them and kept them secret in the first place, knowing it would completely destroy his credibility in academia?

OK, so I get that the
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-sci-fi, kindle
Interesting, fun, short. I liked the idea (and many wouldn't) of a story describing the discovery of a new Gospel. There is so much interpretation of the existing 4, that a new narrative of the same events from a radically different timeline would unavoidably peturb our understanding of Christianity, and there are so many vested interests in the status quo that any interpreter of the text would come under severe pressure from a number of sides. Both of these elements are handled in this brief st ...more
Sheridan Merrick
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite. I had trouble rooting for the protagonist because he didn't have many redeemable qualities, and not in a way that was interesting or exciting. He was constantly objectifying women, defining people by their race, and was a pretentious dude seeking money. It got more interesting as it went on and was more about the actual gospel he released and the crazy response to it, but as soon as that became the focus the book ended. I enjoyed reading Malchus the most, because it was really i ...more
Craig Dickson
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not totally sure how I feel about this book. It was well written and enjoyable to read - Faber is a beautiful writer. But I felt that the ending was unsatisfying and unresolved. Of course, it was deliberately so, but for me it didn't really work. Maybe I'm not poetic enough, but I was hoping for more resolution.

It was good though, dealing with interesting themes and with an engagingly dislikeable protagonist. So yeah, I can't really fault it technically and I enjoyed it right up until the l
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Be careful what you wish for. Ever since my school days, when I was introduced to The Monkey's Paw, I have always remembered that phrase. This is a book that encapsulates it precisely! When a scholar finds some early Christian writings on papyrus scrolls it's a case of publish and be damned......... and suddenly he's famous and rich. But these things don't come on their own. Clever, whitty, and cocks a snook at everyone concerned.
May 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is the first of Faber's books to do absolutely nothing for me. It felt absolutely insubstantial, unthought-out and silly.

A heretical gospel has some sort of hook, but Faber just sort of floats across a series of half-assed satirical ideas of academics, men, the publishing industry, media and religion and then the book ends.

There is nothing below the surface, this feels tossed off to meet a deadline with a controversial topic. The most ephemeral of things
Chavelli Sulikowska
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Faber is without doubt an original contemporary voice. His writing is engaging and he fearlessly tackles some of the "touchy" issues, particularly religion. While I didn't enjoy Fire Gosepl nearly as much as his Book of Strange New Things, it was an unusual and quite cleverly put together story. As one of the character's describes, it is "mind-fuck of a book."
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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

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