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The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  13,760 ratings  ·  1,435 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
Paperback, Canons Edition, 265 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Canongate Books (first published December 4th 2009)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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BlackOxford
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Stephen
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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
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showing up, w
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Tom Doggett
May 26, 2010 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
...more
Manuel Antão
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.


Clunker: "The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ" by Philip Pullman


A few pointers:

Some of the examples are typical: first it's Mary as having the child by a village lad (*fnarr fnarr*), so none of that god stuff, so Jesus is not the son of god so Redemption and Salvation have no meaning, he's just a bloke. ...hmmm do I see the very basis of Christianity being attacked here? Second, he presents a false dichotomy, between the simple
...more
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
...more
Nandakishore Varma
Jul 28, 2015 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
...more
Paul Bryant
THE GOOD MAN PAUL AND THE SCOUNDREL BRYANT - A CONVERSATION

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
...more
Manny
Mar 01, 2013 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)
Nicky
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
Ammar
Oct 05, 2013 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
...more
Maciek
Sep 27, 2011 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
...more
Tamora Pierce
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, fantasy
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
...more
James
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’ is Philip Pullman’s intelligent, controversial, shocking, challenging, thought-provoking, considered, compelling and highly memorable retelling of the story of Jesus.

This is a novel which is all these things and more – whilst perhaps on the face of it Pullman’s book is fundamentally anti-religious, anti-organised religion, atheist or at the very least agnostic at its heart – ‘Good Man Jesus/Scoundrel Christ’ is it seems more than that, fundamentally
...more
JimZ
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of Jesus Christ “retold” by the author, imagining that Jesus had a twin, Christ. It involves all of the parables, teaching, exhortations, and miracles of Jesus Christ from the New Testament with new twists and revisions. It was a quick read, in part because the parables, teaching, exhortations, and miracles of Jesus Christ I already knew from being raised a Christian. I just had to slow down and see where Pullman was going with the revisions. It was interesting, but I can’t say i ...more
Kim
Jun 15, 2010 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
Lakis Fourouklas
Oct 12, 2011 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
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
...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
Daniela
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ apart from being one of the best titled books of the century (probably) is a retelling of one of the world's most famous stories: how Jesus became God.

Pullman constructs a clever narrative which involves two twin brothers and a stranger whose identity is never fully disclosed - my guess is Paul of Tarsus because why wouldn't he be trying to ruin everything? Pullman uses this plot as an 18th century polemist would. He argues that while set in good, hu
...more
Nnedi
Jan 11, 2011 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.
RB
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
...more
J.
Jun 11, 2012 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
Fionnuala
Clever book which left me with a lot of questions.
Susannah Bell
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Koen Crolla
Apr 19, 2010 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
Kim
Jun 26, 2010 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 of th
...more
Gail
May 19, 2012 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
...more
Beth Anne
May 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one.
ebook.

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
...more
Lisa
May 01, 2010 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
notgettingenough
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.
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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

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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. 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?” 29 likes
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