Philip Pullman is, to me, a polarizing figure.  His Dark Materials is, without a doubt, among my favorite reads of all time.  Sure, he manages to not-so-subtly weave the “evils” of the Roman Catholic church into his invented fantasy world.  But honestly, the story is so otherwise compelling that such a deliberate and malevolent slight can be overlooked for its pettiness and childishness…in fact, in many ways, it serves the story quite well.

So given Pullman’s overt and public vitriol for Roman Catholicism specifically, and religious belief in general, I had some pretty strong assumptions about what he would do with the story of Jesus.  Now let’s be honest: such is inescapable when approaching any book–our presuppositions always drive our experience.  In this light, then, I think a really outstanding piece of writing is one that turns presuppositions on their heads–like His Dark Materials did.  A meager and ultimately unsucessful attempt, on the other hand, is one that leaves the reader saying to themselves, “Well, that was terrifically predictable.”  To spoil the ending right out of the gate, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ was the latter.

The Predictably Demythologized Jesus

Pullman’s work is a part of a larger collection of books by various authors in More >