“The Greatest Story Ever Told” is what the Christians claim the Bible to be. Pullman in his version of the story “The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ” makes the point that one can never know what actually happened especially since none of us were not around when this story was made. The story of Jesus Christ is also a story and has not been sufficiently documented to be history, but even if it were to be considered as history per say, Pullman’s point was that history told is not necessarily truth. Truth, he thinks, can be interpreted as history in any way the story teller wants it, as the story travels far and is retold often enough, and is, above all, a good story, people will believe it.
If this book had been published at the time of the inquisition Pullman would be facing a fiery end, fortune favors him.
Pullman puts forward the idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus gave birth to twins, naming one “Jesus” and the other “Christ” and then to say that it was Christ who betrayed Jesus to the Roman governor- Quelle horreur! Blasphemy!
This book is has a little more substance than just that. Pullmans intention of writing this book is not because he was an atheist with the intention of tickling Christians silly by disparaging Jesus Christ, God, and the Biblical account. He narrates many of the essential teachings of Jesus – all taken from the Bible – and laid them in a far more meaningful way than they do coming straight from the Bible. His version of the Lord’s Prayer in the context that he had created is certainly going to moved many Christians and atheists alike.
“‘Lord, if I thought you were listening, I’d pray for this above all: that any church set up in your name should remain poor, and powerless, and modest. That it should wield no authority except that of love. That it should never cast anyone out. That it should own no property and make no laws. That it should not condemn, but only forgive.”
Slowly and ominously, Pullman spins his version of the life and death of Jesus, explaining the necessity if not the exactitude of miracles in the story of Jesus. If miracles do not happen in real life, they had to be created. And the greatest miracle of all was the Resurrection.
This is not a book proclaiming that the falsity of the story of the Bible, and it is made clear that the book is only a story. Pullman’s is a story that we don’t quite expect; but was the Biblical story of Jesus one that we do? The point that runs through it is that a good story is sill a story. Its success depends on many factors, among them, the faith of people and the desire to believe in miracles. It depends as much on the listener as it does on the storyteller. It depends, in other words, on you.