Philip Pullman’s re-telling of the story of Jesus of Nazareth (The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ) is certainly an impressive achievement. ‘Time and again,’ says Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘when Pullman offers his version of a familiar biblical saying or narrative, he achieves a pitch-perfect rendering in modern idiom, carrying something of the shock and compelling attraction of the original gospel text.’
Pullman is clear that what Christians tell us about Jesus is just a story too. The life and teaching of a simple, inspiring, tragic Jewish rabbi was intentionally distorted and embellished, creating a self-serving religious institution with a bloated hierarchy of bishops and priests.
In Philip Pullman’s Jesus the leading biblical scholar and theologian, Gerald O’Collins, looks calmly at the evidence. Can we know the truth about Jesus? Did the first followers of Jesus simply make up the story of his rising from the dead? Did Jesus claim a personal authority that put him on a par with the God? As he faced death and celebrated a final meal with his dearest friends, what did he mean by his words and actions?
With The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ Philip Pullman issued a serious challenge to the reader to look again at the Gospels,and ask whether or not it is reasonable to believe what the New Testament and the Church teach about the founder of Christianity. In Philip Pullman’s Jesus Gerald O’Collins takes up that challenge with authority, passion and flair.