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Reading Jesus: A Writer's Encounter with the Gospels
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Reading Jesus: A Writer's Encounter with the Gospels

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  174 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
In the introduction to this remarkable book, Mary Gordon is riding in a taxi as the driver listens to a religious broadcast, and she reflects that, though a lifelong Christian, she is at odds with many others who identify themselves as Christians. In an effort to understand whether or not she had "invented a Jesus to fulfill my own wishes," she determined to read the Gospe ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published November 30th 2009 by Tantor Media (first published January 1st 2009)
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Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A little slow and more like reading the author's diary than anything else. While reading the book I couldn't help but think that, especially in the sections that cross-compare similar Gospel accounts, the text could have profited from pulling in research, etc. from additional sources. The book is not wrong when it calls itself a writer's "encounter". It's just that, an "encounter" that doesn't go anywhere.
Mary Helene
Why did I never think of this? To read the Gospels with the same kind of attention I give to poetry or a good novel! I had not expected this wonderfully piquant mixture of personal and critical. The first chapters and the last ones are the best, but she did her homework on all of it. There were no easy outs. Some of her middle chapters of things that bother her - such as "The Problem of Ascetism" - are not problems for me. But her chapter which reflects on whether a sacred text itself is respons ...more
I was disappointed! I took a fascinating "Bible as literature" course in college (20+ years ago--gulp!) and thought this sounded like an interesting refresher course. But it was brief & didn't go deep enough. She presented the different gospels' varying versions of a story but often didn't fully discuss all the differences. And it was mostly opinion & literary interpretation; I appreciate when the culture & history are brought into the picture, too.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The essential question in this very readable book ("readable" for believers and unbelievers alike)that Gordon asks is why she is able to tolerate ambiguity and confusion in the Four Gospels when so many readers demand certainty. Christians, she points out, generally bowdlerize the Gospels, conveniently leaving out whatever doesn't make any sense to them. Thomas Jefferson is a prime example with his "rationalist" Bible. To her credit, Gordon has no easy answers. Like the Biblical Jacob, she wrest ...more
Wil Roese
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Wil by: BCPL
Mary Gordon my be a good writer but as demonstrated by this book she has a very shallow understand of the Gospel. She quotes from a passage in the Gospel than gives her superficial interpretation of what it means. She than shows the problems and questions her interpretation causes, but rather than admit she may have the wrong interpolation she leads the reader to beleive the problem is with the teaching of Christ.
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
A great book, Mary Gordon has read the Gospels closely and wrestled with the words and stories. I wanted her to write about every word of the four Gospels.
Brian Martin
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enjoyable, honest, and readable account of a writer's impression of the gospels. Mary Gordon approaches the gospels as most people do, not as a scholar of the New Testament. She is up front about this, and her book is not about pretending to have the correct interpretation to the gospels. The value of this work, for me, was in the questions she asks, and in her ability to capture her reactions to passages she read.
Christine Seaver
3.5 Stars
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have just this very minute made the decision to abandon this audiobook 2/3 of the way through. Part of the problem lay with my misunderstanding that this is not a New Testament "sequel" to David Plotz's Good Book LP: The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible; instead, Gordon analyzes the words of Jesus himself, no "commentary" or interpretation (of Paul, etc.) allowed.
Still, this might've proved interesting enough
Color me disappointed. I wanted more. Hard to know whether I would have liked this book more as an actual page-turning, hold-in-hand book, rather than an audiobook read by a narrator who pronounces every one of Jesus' lines in a low, raspy, DirtyHarry whisper. For not being a Bible scholar, Gordon writes (at times) in a very dry, academic tone; I would prefer a non-expert at things biblical to be a little more of a poet or a regular-gal. It ended up coming off as "Well, I'm no Scripture expert, ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always regretted that I have not had the opportunity to take on class on the Bible as Literature. Gordon fulfills some of that interest in this book.

Mary Gordon tackles many of the same topics I have grappled with...sometimes the stories told to us by the Gospel writers are confusing, even conflicting. She asks insightful questions which led me to thinking more about passages.

As one who hears the Gospels in fragments, really, in the Celebration of Eucharist, I enjoyed her discussions on to
I happened upon this book while browsing at the library, and I've have another Mary Gordon book on my to-read list for a while, so I picked it up.

I haven't been this involved in an inner dialogue with an author in quite a while. I was intrigued by the idea of reading the Gospels in one sitting and thought she did a good job raising questions. But just when I was vehemently disagreeing with a statement or premise, she'd take an unexpected turn back to the side of believing. I still disagree with
Jan Mcginn
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A scholarly look at the narrative of the four gospels as told by a writer of fiction. A thoughtful and careful examination of many of the passages, looked at from the vantage of each author's telling of a common tale - the prodigal's son, the woman at the well, the beautitudes, the sermon on the mount, Matthew 25, the agony in the garden, the passion. And looked at through many common themes - perfection, love, divinity, anti-semitism, life-after-death, the seven last words. A very different, mo ...more
Literary Chic
Great idea but a very dry execution. The author regularly used a nebulous "One." If "One read the passage more thoroughly "One" would realize "One" misjudged the intent of the epistle. It made "One" seem like a worn text abbreviation (OMG, LOL, WTH.)

The author also made a habit of recalling her junior religious experiences as life altering epiphanies. I don't want to belittle a child's perspective of God (it's probably more accurate than most adults) but using your elementary Mass memories as pr
Oct 07, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I gave this book 50 pages and could not continue. I am not one to give up on books. It makes me disappointed and anxious because I don't know how it ends. With that said, I just had no gumption to pick this book back up after my initial reading. Being very familiar with the gospels, I feel that the author's interpretation is very superficial and subjective. There was no substance that I personally could grab onto or that was enticing enough for me to continue reading, which is unfortunate becaus ...more
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I hoped for a greater knowledge and understanding of the historical context of the Gospels, Mary Gordon provided a thorough reflection of comparative passages within the Gospels.

This is not an easy read, or maybe anything with a biblical spin is never an easy read for me. However, if you are interested in learning more on a personal, spiritual, or literal level about the Gospels, then Reading Jesus is worthwhile.
Karl Nehring
Dec 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This book started out well but seemed to run out of energy as it went along. I give Mary Gordon credit for tackling an interesting subject, but wish that she had spent more time and effort on it. It is as though she had some good ideas, started writing, used up her good ideas early on, then just wanted to get the book over with. This is a shame, because her first few chapters are genuinely stimulating.
Milton Brasher-Cunningham
This is another re-read for me. Gordon's conversation with the gospel texts is personal and thoughtful and full of much more emotion than your average commentary. It is not a scholarly work, though she has done a lot of research. It is an account of her living with the texts and working to come to terms with what resonates and what does not, even as she works to articulate her faith in the process. She did a good job of inviting me to make the same journey.
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I found Gordon's insights uninteresting and occasionally, offensive. While she seems to admire Jesus at times, she also calls him a tyrant, and a playground bully and says that his tears over the death of Lazarus were manipulative. Clearly, when we read the Gospels, she is seeing a different Jesus than the one I do.
I technically didn't finish this book since I had 50 pages left when I had to return it to the library, but this isn't a book to read quickly. Gordon's poetic prose introduces new thoughts and insights, and is meant to be digested bit by bit, slowly, to appreciate and integrate all the new flavors.
Very scholarly. The book raised more questions than it answered...maybe by design. I liked the author's comments on her father's death and the question on the Resurrection. I'm happy that I plodded through it to the end.
Ron Charles
Smart and candid reflections on the Gospels by a Roman Catholic writer who's not afraid to ask tough questions about faith:
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gordon shows us how the narrative of Jesus is revealed by examining some key passages of the New Testament's gospel writers. It's the kind of book that is best read slowly, a bit at a time, perhaps with your own journal at hand.
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully simple and honest.
Mary Gordon discusses her reactions to the Christian Bible in a personal and intelligent way.
This book was a window into what Jesus meant to someone else. It didn't really try to have a point. The author merely shared her reactions to Jesus and his words.
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting take on how the writing in the Gospels works to tell a story. I'm not sure it works, to be honest, but it's a different way of looking at those four books of the Bible.
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I happened to read this on Easter weekend and it was like resurrection. I didn't agree with a lot of her interpretations, but still - it was the right book at the right moment for me.
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, religion
Uneven but worthwhile.
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Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, New York, to Anna Gagliano Gordon, an Italian-Irish Catholic mother, and David Gordon, a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. While growing up, she attended Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream and for high school attended The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica, N.Y.. She is Catholic.

She received her A.B. from Barnard College in 1971, and her M.A. from
More about Mary Gordon...