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Literature / The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

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The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a 2010 novel by Philip Pullman. It tells the story of Jesus as if he were two people, "Jesus" and "Christ", with contrasting personalities; Jesus being a moral and godly man, and his brother Christ a calculating figure who wishes to use Jesus' legacy to found a powerful Church.

This work contains examples of:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation - invoked Presents two interpretations of Jesus Christ side-by-side as if they coexisted.
    • Also used straight. Was Jesus a righteous man whose teachings and sacrifice were perverted by Christ's cowardice and cynicism? Or was Jesus a stubborn curmudgeon demanding the impossible, and Christ his unappreciated Poisonous Friend who made sure some practical good came from his life? The ending implies that even Christ himself isn't sure.
  • The Bible - A retelling of part of it.
  • Corrupt Church / Saintly Church: Both are presented as visions for the future that Christ will be responsible for, with the implication being that both versions will have some truth to them.
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  • Decomposite Character: Jesus and Christ.
  • Downer Ending - Christ got his powerful church but the things he had to do to create it and the manner in which he sugar-coated Jesus' life in his texts and all that entails for everything leave him a bitter man
  • Fan Fiction - Sort of.
  • Humans Are Flawed: The Stranger claims that this is the reason why Jesus' teachings will never work.
    The Stranger: People are capable of great things, but only when great circumstances call on them. They can’t live at that pitch all the time, and most circumstances are not great. In daily life people are tempted by comfort and peace; they are a little lazy, a little greedy, a little cowardly, a little lustful, a little vain, a little irritable, a little envious.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: It's just too bad about how the hype took over...
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  • The Man Behind the Man - The Stranger/Angel to Christ.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Christ gets a massive dose of this at the end.
  • Never Trust a Title: The characters' motivations are nowhere near as black-and-white as the title suggests. "The ineffectual idealist Jesus and the reluctant pragmatic Christ" would have been an equally valid title.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Mary gave her second son a common name (which is never revealed), but always called him Christ (Greek for Messiah), which is also the name used in narration.
  • Twin Switch
  • Unwitting Pawn: Christ


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