Philip Pullman. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. Melbourne: Text, 2010 [Book review]

2017-05-22T04:32:06Z (GMT) by Geoffrey Berry
There must be a wicked twist coming, I found myself thinking, having settled into the deceptively simple storytelling that marks avowed atheist Philip Pullman's new addition to the Myths series, <i>The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ</i>. Will it be a<i> Fight Club</i> style schizophrenia, a case of mistaken identity, or a misappropriation of history on a massive scale? Fortunately, due to the exquisite attention Pullman grants to the ancient tradition built into his story, I can report on the strengths of this book without giving away the secret that clinches its powerfully evocative take on the most charged religious tale in Western history. But does he achieve this level of suspense, intrigue – some might even say shock and awe – without resort to cheap shots at his enormous and bloated target, I hear you ask? Can he treat the story of Christ with respect even while dismantling its Church's mythic proportions? The answer to both of these questions is yes, as long as the reader is prepared to admit the martyr's humanity and the broad range of vested interests involved in any process of editing (especially one with such vast potential). Pullman employs no <i>deus ex machina</i> to fulfil the promise built into his tense narrative, instead relying on a mysterious character who coaches the conclusion to its equally enigmatic and ñ in my opinion – masterful finale.