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20th April 2010

Philip Pullman publishes controversial new novel

Philip Pullman (1965, English), author of the hugely successful His Dark Materials trilogy, has released a controversial new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

The story is a re-imagining of the life of Jesus with some crucial alterations made to the familiar tale. Here, the Virgin Mary gives birth to twins, and while Jesus grows up to be a popular preacher, his less gifted brother Christ becomes manipulative and deceitful. Taking on the task of writing up Jesus’ life and teachings, Christ embellishes as he writes, inventing miracles and supernatural flourishes solely for good effect. Eventually the myth he has created gathers such power that Christ betrays Jesus to the Romans to create the dramatic martyrdom he needs to ensure a great “organisation” will live on based on his brother’s teachings.

Pullman is known for his strong views on God and religion: His Dark Materials had a strong anti-religion theme which provoked both praise and opposition, and The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ looks likely to ignite debate once again.

The book has received a lot of press coverage, including an examination in the Guardian by Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh, and a “Lunch with the Financial Times” interview in the Financial Times, published at the weekend, where Pullman explained some of his inspirations for the book.

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