The Gospel According to Jesus Christ

“There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or badly written. That is all.” (Oscar Wilde)

Mostly, I agree with him, but after reading ‘The Gospel According to Jesus Christ’, I wasn’t so sure.  The book is actually written by Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago. I’m always surprised by the fact that despite its english translation, very few anglophones have even heard of this book- which is amusing because it caused such controversy in Portugal.

The book is written in a sort of pseudo-gospel manner, but with the narrator of the story as an omniscient writer who reveals a tyrannical God using Jesus as a pawn in his endless play for power, and the devil as a reasonable, but misunderstood helper of Jesus. Jesus himself enjoys many pleasures of worldly life, including copulating with Mary Magdalene and at one point being asked whether he wanted to have sex with a sheep (random). It doesn’t focus on the gospels, but rather on Jesus’ childhood and how it formed him into a man. Written in Saramago’s a-grammatical, quirky style it’s not a book to take on lightly, but it’s certainly a must-read.

There is no doubt that this book is superbly written, but as for its morality, I’m still entirely unsure- there seems something incredibly perverse about setting Jesus up as a such a pitiful figure, of turning God into such a monster. But perhaps what must be borne in mind is that this is really just a book- it’s not an attempt at a new and dynamic gospel, it’s just a novel, about Christ,written by a (incredibly pissed-off Catholic-hater) communist atheist. Enjoy!

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