Thursday, February 12, 2009

THE FIFTH GOSPEL, Michel Faber's novel about newly recovered Aramaic scrolls about the life of Jesus, is reviewed by Christopher Guerin in PopMatters. Excerpt:
In The Fire Gospel, he finds resonance by structuring chapters according to books of the Bible, i.e., Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Judges (a hilarious take on Amazon customer reviews), Acts, Revelations [Revelation, dang it! - JRD], and Lamentations. And, a nice stroke, Malchus, though a devout believer and anchorite, is also rather pathetic, and a bore, who is really just another Theo Grippen writing to bring his own fire to humankind two thousand years earlier.

The conclusion of the book leaves the religious question open. Theo, to his credit, or his damnation, depending on your point of view, has attempted to release his fellow man from the fetters of religion, hoping to refocus its efforts on the clear and present challenges facing it. It’s possible that he survives the effort. It’s possible also that he sees his mistake, not that “bringing fire” is not a good thing, but that, like the crucifixion of Christ, itself the supreme Promethean example, no good deed goes unpunished.
Background here.