The Gospel According to the SonBook - 1997
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Pulitzer prizewinner Norman Mailer takes on the thankless task of sorting out Christian theology. He doesn't just ask why Christianity comes in so many different flavors, he asks What is the foundation of it? The first question is easy enough. If you've ever read the New Testament, you've probably noticed there are four different versions of events surrounding Christ's life. These are the Gospels; more specifically, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. That in itself - four versions of the same events - is cause enough for confusion and differences in churches. But Mailer doesn't stop there. Rather than play the role of theologian, droning on about his opinions and backing them with scriptures that fit accordingly, he asks himself, What would a gospel look like written by Christ? The result is THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE SON (Random House, $13.95).
As THE GOSPEL follows Christ's ministry, we find He's a none too eager Messiah. He's coming to terms with His destiny, and not without a bit of self-doubt. He enjoys His wine, and is naive when it comes to women. For the most part, Mailer is true to the larger aspects of events set down in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Variances are slight, mostly just in Christ's reflection on Himself and the miracles of the day. Upon feeding the multitudes, He supposes it will be blown totally out of proportion, claiming He just divided the fish up into very small portions so it went further. Over other miracles He's just as amazed as everybody else.
Mailer shows great restraint in the liberties he takes with Christ's story. What could have been a hatchet job is instead a thoughtful fictitious account of the most controversial figure in Western history. Although it's a novel, Mailer writes in a scriptural style. The chapters are short and the language is direct and to the point. The result is an eloquent account of Christ's ministry as if coming from Jesus Himself.
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