The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Phillip Pullman

The Good Man Jesus

I have returned from the land of curries which by all standards was quite an experience. It’s quite controversial when people asked you whether you enjoyed your holiday and you don’t immediately answer ‘YES! I want to be back their right now’ – to be honest I was quite happy to see England. No 45 degree dry heat [Delhi], nobody charging me 650 rupees more for entry because I am foreign [Taj Mahal], and no one trying to flog me something I wouldn’t pay them to take off my hands [Jaipur]. I did miss the beautiful palaces however [Udaipur], Cosmopolitan chaos [Mumbai] and someone delivering me Dominos by the beach [Goa].

I think most of my happiness to see the UK was due to the flight home. I would imagine that Economy is a bit like Chinese water torture, I always get a mean air hostess. The one we had looked like she would like to see me wearing my overcooked bland plane food which I was attempting to eat through 6 hours of constant turbulence. She also banned me from going to the loo because their was turbulence whilst literally every other person was Irish jigging around the cabin!

In addition to this we had a PA happy captain which every time he used the PA or everytime he accidentally touched it [this happened a lot!] all of those who were watching a film got a loud noise in their earphones which sounded like a 2 month old playing with a phone. Annoying? No, not as annoying as pan pipe music blaring out of speakers. I know you don’t want me to use my iPod on take off and landing but making me listen to 80’s hit love songs with no lyrics and through an instrument the devil invented, will only send me hunting for it During the horrific turbulence all I kept thinking was ‘Please God don’t let me die now, to the sound of Pan pipe music, to only the choice of curried food and a half finished the film The Blind Side’!

God and I have a tenuous relationship – mainly I left him well alone when I went to University and studied Archaeology. I don’t disagree that he probably existed but I’m not entirely convinced to his divinity and the organized church is something I think should be firmly returned to the box from where it came. Therefore I’m always open to a bit of religious ‘interpretation’ especially if it is by Phillip Pullman.

His brand new release ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’ by the subject matter alone was always going to be controversial but lets face it Pullman has never been one to hold back. If you take a look at his Northern Lights trilogy he condemns the church pretty wholeheartedly to aid the stories’ plot line.

Something I have always loved about Pullman’s characters and writing are his ability to be so unique. There are so many teenage fiction books which just rehash old plot lines but Pullman with his Ruby in the Smoke Trilogy and His Dark Materials books brought something fresh and new to genre. As soon as I heard this book was due out I was extremely excited and I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed.

The life of Christ is told as if Mary gave birth to twins who are Christ and Jesus. The twins represent two different characters, Jesus it the straight talking of the two whilst Christ is studious and thoughtful. In the book Jesus does not think that an ‘organized church’ is what God would have wanted, that it will be abused by men for their own means whilst Christ believes men need a structured religion for them to follow in the faith. They are two types of god which is enough to start you mind racing but Pullman also believes his depiction is pretty close to the real thing – a bold statement.

Everyone knows the stories but a fresh and well written interpretation which is part history book and fictional tale is a welcome addition. This book covers the full story of Jesus’ life and reworks some of the gospels and their stories.

The book is absorbing and there is none of that ‘Dan Brown’ whimsical feeling, Pullman has accomplished a solid book which is an enjoyable and a thought provoking read.

No doubt there will be some people who will think he has signed himself a one way ticket to hell but then again then Archbishop of Canterbury has praised the book – well afterall no press can be bad press for the church. It does was all great books do so well cause debate and provoke an opinion. Love it or hate it, it is still a worthy read.

Author: Rohini Wahi

Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.

She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at

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