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Michael Bishop
Posted on Friday, November 07, 2003 - 06:02 am:   

Hope the title of this thread doesn't put folks off or scare anyone away. It's not about evangelism or the end times or the astonishing popularity of quasi-post-holocaust narratives about the Rapture that have become bestsellers over the past six to seven years.

I'm teaching an interim-term course at LaGrange College in January called "Images of Christ in Contemporary World Literature," and the three titles I've chosen (and there are a multitude from which to choose) are Jose Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Norman Mailer's The Gospel According to the Son, a rather ballsy first-person effort from the p.o.v. of J.C. himself, and Jim Crace's novel about Jesus' forty days in the wilderness, Quarantine.

I chose these three from a long list of possibilities, including, of course, Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ, Moorcock's Behold the Man, Christoper Moore's relatively new book, Lamb: The Gospel According to Christ's Pal, Biff, Gerd Theissen's The Shadow of the Galilean, in which Christ never appears on-stage (hence the title), Robert Graves's King Jesus, Nino Ricci's Testament: A Novel, Sholem Asch's classic 1939 novel The Nazarene, and Anthony Burgess's Man of Nazareth, which, unfortunately, is out of print.

I'm not looking for detailed discussions of these books here, nor have I read all of those listed (yet, anyway), but instead for other suggestions that might work in this course. Eventually, I'd like to write a paper on the subject, and I'd appreciate any help about approaching this topic that anyone cares to give. Thanks.
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Claude Lalumičre
Posted on Friday, November 07, 2003 - 07:51 am:   

Paul Park's The Gospel of Corax is a good one.
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ellen
Posted on Friday, November 07, 2003 - 08:15 am:   

And Paul Parks's newly released The Three Marys.
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Jason Erik Lundberg
Posted on Friday, November 07, 2003 - 11:17 am:   

I'd suggest Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt, though it's pretty massive. Might be to big for a classroom assignment, though you never know.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Friday, November 07, 2003 - 09:08 pm:   

Quarantine is one of my recent favorites (and for my entertainment dollar, the best of the three you picked).

I never get tired of mentioning that, in the endnotes to The Logia of Yeshua, translated by Guy Davenport and Benjamin Urrutia -- a small book you should jump on straightaway, if you haven't already -- Urrutia lists his three favorite literary representations of Christ as The Master and Margarita (Bulgakov), "The Selfish Giant" (Wilde), and the novella version of "Riverworld" (P. J. Farmer).
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Mike
Posted on Saturday, November 08, 2003 - 09:35 am:   

These are all excellent suggestions. Claude, Ellen, I had meant to include The Gospel of Corax and The Three Marys in my initial list and could kick myself for leaving them out.

Jason, thanks for the tip about Barnhardt's Gospel and, S. Hamm, for the tips about The Logia of Yeshua and the other three titles, particularly the Oscar Wilde.

If anyone would like to say any more about this topic or the titles listed here, I'd appreciate the feedback. Anyway, these are all good jumping-off places.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Saturday, November 08, 2003 - 09:54 am:   

If you don't mind mixing media, I highly recommend the film Jesus of Montreal.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Saturday, November 08, 2003 - 12:54 pm:   

An obvious one that just popped into my head: reporter A.J. Langguth's JESUS CHRISTS, a sort of collage-novel from the late sixties which drops the character of Jesus into a variety of historical and contemporary settings.

I just checked Amazon.com, and to my great shock the book is still in print, in a handsome trade edition sporting adulatory blurbs from Walker Percy and William Gass.
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Mike
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 05:15 am:   

Lou, actually I plan to show Jesus of Montreal and maybe even Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. I'm a little reluctant to go too heavily into film in this course because the head of the religion department has a course devoted to portrayals of Christ in the movies, and he uses both these films and several others.

S. Hamm, I know of and have read A. J. Langguth's Jesus Christs, which I purchased last year in an edition that one can best order from the Univeristy of Southern California bookstore, for aobut $22 plus postage, which is pretty pricey for a short novel. The edition that you're talking about is much, much, much more expensive, and although I like the book quite a lot, and believe that it would make excellent discussion fodder, I couldn't see asking my students to spend so much money. I will give them the title in a suggested-reading list, however, and perhaps take in a couple of the brief blackout-like chapters in photocopy, if I'm not violating the principle of fair use. In any event, it's a book that I wish were available more cheaply.

Again, thanks for the comments and suggestions. Does anyone know anything about Nino Ricci's Testament? I believe that Liz Hand reviewed it for the Washington Post Book World, and her response, if I remember correctly, was that it was pretty heavy going, i.e., boring.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 04:07 pm:   

MB,

Amazon is selling JESUS CHRISTS in trade PB from Figueroa Press. It goes for $22, so it may be the same edition you ordered through USC.

Frightening to think that a $22 paperback could be the LESS expensive edition. All one can say is, well, Jesus Christs.

SH
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Mike
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 04:32 am:   

SH, you're right; the Figueroa Press edition is the one that I bought from the USC bookstore, and it's a very short novel. In this day and age, I suppose that $22 isn't the worst possible price for a rare book, but most college students aren't keen on putting out that kind of money for a work shorter than The Catcher in the Rye.

Too bad Mel Gibson's The Passion won't be available by January either on DVD or in theaters, although there's a film out now, and it's been fairly well received, called The Gospel of John. Has anybody seen it?

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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 12:28 pm:   

They might not be applicable to the course in question, but what other good Christ films are there, just out of curiosity?
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S. Hamm
Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 04:39 pm:   

Boy, everybody's a critic.
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Mike
Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 05:30 am:   

There's Godspell, King of Kings, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew, although the director objected to the addition of St. before Matthew, and a number of other films that make use of Christ figures, from Billy Budd (a tip of the hat to H. Melville, of course) to Shane to Baghdad Cafe to . . . actually, the best reference for this topic that I can think of is a little book by a Jesuit priest called Imaging the Divine: Christ and Christ Figures in the Movies, a book that I actually reviewed at Amazon.com, although I'm having no luck at all remembering the author's name -- Baugh? It'll come to me later. I hope.
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Mike
Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 05:35 am:   

SH, thanks for the "Jesus Actor Struck by Lightening" posting. Amusing. If you're not the actor in question, I guess.

Anybody know anything that might prove useful in teaching Crace's Quarantine? I read one critic, or reviewer, who took the book to task for the number of times that Crace employs, probably consciously, an iambic pentameter line in his prose, almost as if he had first cast the novel as a long poem or a drama. He pointed out that the iambic pentamenter lines cropped up far too often to be simply a random quirk of Crace's literary style.
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Keith Ferrell
Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2003 - 08:36 am:   

Hey, Mike --

What a wonderful idea for a course, and how lovely to see Mailer's GOSPEL getting some attention. Ballsy is right, but also more literarily (and in some ways scripturally) accomplished than it got credit for being.

Too bad the Burgess is unavailable -- a lovely literary contrast class could be drawn between the two lions' twoas it were, litanies if not liturgies.

As with, for another whole course altogether, one could draw parallels/contrasts between the Christ of Behold the Man and the Christ-figure of Barefoot In the Head, with all the added frisson -- or is it lagniappe? -- of the times, in and out of sf, during which they came into being.

And, as long as I have wandered this far off-topic, I have bitten the bullet in Jack Dann's area and answered, from my privileged perspective, your request for details about why grandpa is grandpa.

Reading much Bishop lately, and am, as ever, the better for it.

I would LOVE to be in that course -- and will be first in line to read the paper!


cheers!
Keith
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Mike
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 05:34 am:   

Keith,

Thanks for your posting. Good idea about drawing parallels between the Christ of Moorcock's work and the Christ figure in Aldiss's Joycean fix-up; I haven't read either in a long, long time, however.

Right now I'm deep into Sholem Asch's The Nazarene, which is a powerful and apparently little remembered work by a Polish-born novelist who wrote his first stories in Hebrew but who on the advice of I. L. Peritz (if I'm spelling that name correctly) thereafter switched to Yiddish and had good English-language translators for a series of novels considering Christianity as a Jewish phenomenon. Late in life, he caught a lot of grief from the Jewish community for attempting to bridge what he felt was a very narrow chasm between the faith of his birth and that of the Western European majority, Christianity. In any case, The Nazarene is remarkable for featuring as its middle third a "gospel" ostensibly written by Judas, whom Asch calls Judah Ish-Kiriot. Fascinating stuff. It makes me want to read more of his oeuvre.

And, hey, I'd love to have you in the course, Keith. Right now I think I have no more than five students registered, even though a professor teaching a film course about Christ and Christ figures had three times as many students in his class. I can see students weighing their options for the January interim term -- take a film course, take a novel course -- and deciding to go a little easy on themselves. Completely understandable. I'd've probably chosen the film option myself as an undergraduate.

All best,

Mike
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 06:10 am:   

Michael: One I would highly suggest, is The Man Who Died by D.H. Lawrence. I'm not a real fan of DH but this book really blew me away when I read it. Good for a course too because it tends more toward novella length than tome. I also offer up my own short story -- "On the Road to New Egypt" to break the solemnity. Good luck with this.

Best,


Jeff
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Keith Ferrell
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 09:38 am:   

Mike --

One more from sf, with your indulgence.

Occuring to me belatedly -- which is amazing considering how firmly it has remained in memory -- is the incomparable Barry Malzberg's CROSS OF FIRE.

Barry at his best -- brilliantly written at a consistently high pitch and bleakly hopeful, or at least darkly acceptant, at its dazzling close.

Keith
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Mike
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 12:20 pm:   

Jeff,

Thanks for the tips regarding The Man Who Died, which I had on an early list and then unaccountably dropped, and of course for your story "On the Road to New Egypt." By the way, I'm getting your GGP collection for Christmas. And should have gotten it on my own long ago. Forgive me.

And Keith,

Thanks for the tip regarding Barry's Cross of Fire. Is this one still in print? I've got a lot of Barry's work, but don't believe that I have this one.

Mike
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Keith Ferrell
Posted on Monday, December 01, 2003 - 01:42 pm:   

Mike --

In print? You ARE a man of faith!

I'll keep my eyes peeled at the passalong stores near here, and pick up one for you as a Christmas present.

Hope all is well there.
Keith
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Mike
Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 06:19 am:   

Actually, I knew, on some level, that the novel was out of print. Just about everything of mine is out of print except for two collections from Golden Gryphon Press.

I learned yesterday that my pay for this course is predicated on the number of students I have, and that if only four stay with me out of the five that have registered, I'll be paid less than half of what I thought I would be making. (You have to have eight to make the full amount possible.) My faith dwindles by the moment. . . .
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Keith Ferrell
Posted on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 06:06 am:   

Make it an on-line course!

If you post it, we will come!

faithfully,

Keith
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Mike
Posted on Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - 06:29 am:   

Not a bad idea, Keith, but I'm not sure how I'd go about it. Incidentally, a telephone call to the academic dean late yesterday afternoon has resolved the pay issue. The tie to the number of students registered is only valid for standard departmental courses, not custom-designed interim-term courses, and so I'm going to make the sum that I initially thought I was going to make, unless my numbers falls below three students, in which case the college will simply cancel the class.

Hope all is well with you, Keith.
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Mastadge
Posted on Sunday, January 04, 2004 - 02:39 pm:   

Mike,

I'm curious as to how you chose the three books you mentioned at the very beginning of this thread out of all the possibilities mentioned? By what criteria did you choose them?

By the way, I've picked up several of the books mentioned in here, and have been (mostly) quite pleased so far. Good discussion!
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Mike
Posted on Monday, January 05, 2004 - 04:02 am:   

My selections hinged on pretty arbitrary personal decisions, actually. I chose the Crace because it is relatively brief and doesn't attempt to encompass all of Jesus's earthly mission as set out in the four Gospels, but rather focuses on the forty days in the wilderness -- from a very unorthodox perspective. I chose the Mailer because it takes what I regard as a pretty respectful approach to the material (even though I've always thought of Mailer as something of an iconoclast) and because this approach provides balance to the more transgressive takes of both Crace and Saramago. And I chose the Saramago because I believe that it's a great novel. Since I have only a month to handle this material, I selected only three books, when I would have loved to choose as many as ten -- books by Robert Graves, Anthony Burgess, Paul Park, D. H. Lawrence, A. J. Langguth, etc., etc. Can't write more just now, however, because I've got to drive to LaGrange College and teach my first real class. This morning I'll be talking about the different sorts of Christ fictions, as Theodore Ziolkowsky outlines them in his book Fictional Transfigurations of Jesus, a seminal attempt to define Christ-related narratives as stand-alone genres worthy of study.

All best,

Mike
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m.
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 08:05 am:   

In a blurb on the back of Paul Park's Three Marys, James Morrow mentions several "New Testament fictions," including a novel called Lazarus. Does anyone out there happen to know anything about this book? Date of publication? Narrative approach?
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, February 07, 2004 - 04:11 pm:   

Could be referring to Lazarus by Alain Absire:

From Publishers Weekly
Among the recorded miracles worked by Jesus in his public ministry is the resurrection from the grave of his friend Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary, at whose home the prophet received warm hospitality. What happened to Lazarus after he was awakened from the "great sleep" is not known, but is imaginatively reconstructed here in this provocative novel that takes us inside the house in Bethany where his "fleshless body and the smell of damp earth still on him" repulse Lazarus's young wife, Susannah. Soon Lazarus finds his "half-life" unbearable. He is caught between his own unwillingness to be a living witness to the power of the Nazarene and political pressures that pit him against the Roman establishment. Lazarus's quest for inner peace is a tortuous search reaching from the event on Calvary to the destruction of the great temple in Jerusalem where his faith is finally evoked. In an innovative embellishment of the simple biblical story, Absire uses spare, contemporary prose to paint a humanly vibrant backdrop from which a transcendent faith emerges.

From Library Journal
What is a miracle? The "miracle hater" is Eshkar, a Hebrew born into slavery in Egypt. He takes part in the great Exodus but separates himself from the other tribes when he sees that Moses's miracles cause only pain. In the desert Eshkar grows to manhood, cynical and alone. The same theme is evident in Absire's retelling of John's gospel story. After Jesus calls him from the tomb, Lazarus exists in a dim twilight, unable to love or work or rest, his gray corpselike body stinking of corruption and the grave. He goes in search of Jesus to demand the reason for his suffering but arrives at Golgotha too late. Both novels, though brief and overpriced, are far superior to the usual "biblical" fiction and would be good material for discussion groups.

There's another book, also called Lazarus, also translated from French, listed, by Andre Malraux. No other information is available about it on Amazon.com, though, and I'm too lazy to head over to a search engine and dig deeper.
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m.
Posted on Monday, February 09, 2004 - 06:00 am:   

Thanks for the work you've done here. I really appreciate it. In Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene -- whom Saramago identifies as the sister of Martha and Lazarus -- prevents Jesus from resurrecting her dead brother, saying No one has committed so much sin in his life that he deserves to die twice. I'm pretty sure that the Absire book is the one to which Jim Morrow refers in his blurb on Paul Park's novel. Again, my thanks to you.
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Michael D. Toman
Posted on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 01:51 pm:   

Even though it's about the pagan Saul (who becomes St. Paul) and not Jesus, I'd like to put in a good word for Gerald Kersh's THE IMPLACABLE HUNTER (Heinemann:1961).//It certainly captures the feeling of horror and dismay experienced by a Roman compatriot of Saul's at his friend's sudden, inexplicable conversion from tracking down and killing followers of the new messianic religion to becoming one of the two main founders. Kersh even has Saul present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen!//There's more information about this book, which never had an American edition, as well as other Kershworks, at the Gerald Kersh website (run by Paul Duncan), "The Nights and Cities of Gerald Kersh," at www.harlanellison.com/Kersh //I read the copy Jackie Gleason donated to the University of Miami (!) and thought that it was one of the best books I've ever read.//Off-topic but of interest to any other Kersh readers who might be out there: I just found the new GK collection, KARMESIN: WORLD'S GREATEST CRIMINAL--OR MOST OUTRAGEOUS LIAR (Crippen & Landru: 2003)at a local library.//I've been working my way through GK's works since I read NIGHTSHADE AND DAMNATIONS (edited by Harlan Ellison)in 1968, what seems like googolmoons ago!
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m.
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 12:25 pm:   

Michael, I appreciate your dropping by and including this information about Kersh's The Implacable Hunter, which I'll confess never even having heard of, although of course I know Kersh by a story or two, and by reputation. Thanks.
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 02:59 pm:   

Mike B:
Kersh is wonderful!! One I remembered from many years ago "Men Without Bones" is still up in our archives. It was one of the stories I knew I had to bring back to an audience.
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m.
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 05:49 am:   

Ellen, Thanks for pointing out that there's a story by Kersh in the archives. I'll get to it, eventually, and appreciate your posting.

Today, Jack McDevitt asked me if I'd read Bud Webster's story "Christus Destitutus" in the Brett Cox and Andy Duncan anthology Crossroads. Bud's story, which he had a very hard time placing, begins, "Jesus lay dying in a five-dollar flop." So that one's on my to-read list, too, and I'm going to get to it before the day is out.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 11:03 am:   

Actually, we've got two Kersh stories up.
I see our last was in 2002. Time for another :-)
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Lawrence A
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 03:30 am:   

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Gore Vidal's LIVE FROM GOLGOTHA especially considering it makes use of the science fiction trope of time travel. Here is a brief review
http://www.timetravelreviews.com/books/vidal1.htm

I know it has been adapted and performed as a play.
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m.
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 04:14 am:   

Ellen, still haven't checked out the Kersh(es), but will. Thanks.

Lawrence A, I've had Vidal's book in mind for a long time, but haven't checked it out as closely as some others because it's, allegedly at least, a satirical take on the events of the Crucifixion, as if current-day media were busy covering (i.e., simultaneously aggrandizing, trivializing, and misinterpreting) them. (I mean no offense to the media, of course.) Thanks for the posting of the review's URL.

And Bud Webster's story "Christus Destitutus" is one of the most powerful and succinct treatments of the Christ theme in speculative fiction I've ever encountered. I recommend it, heartily, to everyone (Crossroad, pp. 201-211). Check it out.
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ellen
Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 08:52 am:   

I'm in the middle of Crossroads (and several other anthos).
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m.
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 04:40 am:   

Ellen, I frankly don't know how you do it. I'm lucky if I finish a single anthology in a week, and there's other stuff out there I also try to read. Anyway, my hat's off to you . . .
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ellen
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 08:56 am:   

I skim things I don't like--I skim looking for horror. It's still very time consuming but not as...if I read every word of everything I have sitting in piles on my floor, on my sofa, on my kitchen table...etc ;-)
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m.
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 04:32 pm:   

Skimming? Ah, that's the ticket. Good show.
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Bud Webster
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:46 pm:   

Mike, you should be aware of David Niall Wilson's 1999 novel, _This Is My Blood_, which casts Jesus and Mary Magdelene in a decidedly vampiric light; there's an excerpt here:

http://www.vampires.nu/pages/Books.cfm/ID/2613/PageID/22

Much of the book is taken from The Book of Judas, who is Christ's most loyal disciple in the book - so you can see there's quite a bit of alternate history going on. Good stuff, I recommend it.

And thank you for your *very* kind words.
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m.
Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 05:49 am:   

Bud, I appreciate your pointing out Wilson's This Is My Blood. It's interesting, by the way, how often The Book of Judas comes up in novelizations of this topic, including, perhaps as the earliest manifestion (or one of the earliest), Scholem Asch's novel from the 1930s, The Nazarene.
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Bud Webster
Posted on Sunday, September 19, 2004 - 08:10 am:   

Mike, Mary reminds me that you might also want to look at James Morrow's _Only Begotten Daughter_, in which the Second Coming is a female.
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m.
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 04:57 am:   

Bud, thanks for this. Morrow is a favorite of mine, and I know this book, although I haven't read it in quite a long time. In any event, it would be hard to leave Jim out of any thoroughgoing examination of this whole topic. Thanks again.
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Kevin Helfenbein
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 08:29 am:   

I'd like to add Damon Knight's _The Man in the Tree_ to this list. It's a favorite of mine.
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m.
Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - 06:10 am:   

Kevin, thanks. I appreciate this one. I actually have a copy of the book, but have never -- to my embarrassment -- read it.
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Michael D. Toman
Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 11:42 am:   

Hi, Mike!

On the off chance that you're still interested in tracking down Christ-related literature, I would also like to put in a good word for a pretty obscure play by Don Marquis, "The Dark Hours" (Doubleday:1924). Found this in the drama collection of the library where I work.

Marquis is best remembered (if he's remembered at all) as the author of the Archy and Mehitabel stories, which are also highly recommended.

If I remember correctly from a Hemingway/Faulkner college course I took over thirty years ago, EH wrote a very short story, which I think was titled "Today is Friday," about the Crucifixion, which contained this line from an eye-witness: "He looked pretty good in there today."

Anything to report about how your class went? Any possibility that you might actually be able to offer any on-line classes?

All Best,

Michael
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Lawrence A
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 03:51 am:   

Kevin I gotta say that I really didn't like 'The Man in the Tree'. I found it wayward and kinda aimless. It started off well but then just kind of went nowhere. But I don't really remember it well, I read it so long ago. But it did put me off Knight in a big way, I do remember that. Anyhow we all have different tastes.

I love Morrow, he is also a favorite of mine - even though I don't really share his outlook/philosophy. I gotta say that when it comes to religion and religious controversies/dogma expressed in the speculative fiction field, Morrow is the one who seems to be at the forefront here. In fact it seems to be an obsession with him, thankfully because he has given us some wonderful novels.
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m.
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 06:09 am:   

Michael, I appreciate your mentioning the Hemingway story "Today Is Friday," which I read long, long ago, but had completely forgotten about. A good get. As far as the course goes, I had only five students, but three of them were pretty good, and we delved into, broke down, and examined Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ about as thoroughly as we possibly could, given our backgrounds, varying philosophies, and educational limitations. A very rewarding course, at least for me, and of course I think the instructor often gets more out of a class than do the students, unless they apply themselves equally assiduously. I doubt that LaGrange College will set up any online classes for me or anyone else, however.

Lawrence, I agree with you about Morrow. Only Begotten Daughter, Bible Stories for Adults, and Towing Jehovah and the other two novels in that trilogy are near-miraculous achievements, in my book. And don't let one novel put you off Damon Knight; some of his short fiction, in particular, is brilliant, and I have lately read some very good things about his underappreciated final novel, which he called an "Oval." (Was its title Humpty Dumpty? I can't remember.)
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Kevin Helfenbein
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 07:42 am:   

Regarding Damon Knight: Lawrence, I’m sorry you didn’t like _The Man in the Tree_. I read it for the second time last year, about 20 years after my first reading. There is a jump in time that splits the novel approximately in two; initially, the second half seems a bit ‘wayward’, but ultimately comes home to roost staying quite true to itself. I would second Michael’s suggestion that you not give up on Knight. His last novel is titled _Humpty Dumpty: An Oval_. I recommend that one, but it’s his penultimate novel, _Why Do Birds_ that I would more strongly recommend. It certainly has more in the way of plot--_HD_, to a great extent, is about one man’s consciousness, his inner (somewhat plotless) world. Knight’s short fiction includes many fine works including “Rule Golden” and “I See You”, two favorites of mine. I’m not sure if any of his other woks can be called “Christ fictions”.
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Wanda
Posted on Wednesday, September 29, 2004 - 08:58 am:   

Damon's last story, published in F&SF and called "Watching Matthew" has some references to Christ in the text. It's a beautiful piece of writing, btw.
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Lawrence A
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 03:02 am:   

Kevin and Mike, I definitely have not given up on Knight, and will look out for those novels you recommend. I know he was a very good editor.

Back to Christ Fictions. Thought I would make mention of an excellent Christ fiction that has surprisingly not been mentioned and should definitely not be overlooked.

It is actually a story within a novel, namely Dostoyevsky's deservedly famous masterpiece The Brothers Karamazov.

Basically the story within a story, relates to Ivan Karamazov telling his brother Aloysha/Alexi a tale of Christ's return to earth during the Spanish Inquisition and his subsequent imprisonment by the Grand Inquisitor (who knows Christ exactly for who he is - hence his imprisonment). Christ is sentenced to be executed. Anyhow prior to his execution, the Grand Inquisitor lectures Christ in his cell, railing against humanity, life, God and religion in general. The Grand Inquisitor's monologue is brilliant and burns in my mind to this day (I cannot ever forget the gist of it). More than that it is incredibly and eerily prophetic of Russia's future (in the 20th century). Let us not forget that despite setting this story in Spain circa 16th century, Dostoyevsky was writing in late 19th century Russia.

Christ says nothing in response, except to kiss the Inquisitor (on the lips I think?). Colin Wilson when commenting on this tale of Dostoyevsky's (which is called "The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor") points out how right Dostoyevsky is to have Christ do only this in response to the Inquisitor. As Wilson writes, Christ by kissing the Inquisitor is basically saying "your argument is strong but my love is stronger". I hope I've got the Wilson quote right, am relying on my memory.

I know some of you may object and say surely the kiss is an allusion to betrayal a la Judas but I gotta say that I think that is a wrong interpretation. Anyhow the Inquisitor's response to the kiss is also dead-on. Dostoyevsky's psychological insight here is very impressive.
For those who have not read it, I will not give away the Inquisitor's response.

Anyhow as a stand-alone story it is a masterpiece, never mind the rest of The Brothers Karamazov. Just on its own, as a short story, it is one of the best pieces ever written by Dostoyevsky. It is in fact the best Christ fiction I have read and I do not see how it can ever be surpassed.
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m.
Posted on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 04:56 am:   

Lawrence, actually I taught "The Grand Inquisitor" as part of my Images of Christ course, and I rip it off shamelessly in my first novel, A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, so you can see that I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment, and probably haven't mentioned it here simply because I (stupidly) assumed that everyone else has read it and feels the same way about it that you and I do.
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m.
Posted on Friday, October 01, 2004 - 05:13 am:   

Oh, by the way, the rest of The Brothers Karamazov is a masterpiece, too. It's at least a minor miracle that a novel this good incorporates a short story (or novelette, if we use SFWA's length criteria) this cogent, powerful, and moving. And I agree with Lawrence's, and Wilson's, interpretation of the kiss that Christ bestows on the Inquisitor.
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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, April 21, 2005 - 01:08 pm:   

Apparently MP Shiel, eccentric genius and King of Redonda, author of such nastily wonderful books as The Purple Cloud and Shapes in the Fire, wrote a first-person novel about Christ (apparently, he was under some delusion that he was Christ. . .) that to this day has not been published, and I was wondering if anyone here has read it, or knows where a copy of the ms might be found.
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m.
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 12:20 pm:   

No takers, unfortunately, on Mastadge's wondering about M.P. Shiel's unpublished first-person Christ novel. And I've been away virtually forever from this board. Forgive me.
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Mastadge
Posted on Sunday, November 06, 2005 - 07:45 am:   

There's a new Christ fiction out, Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. I think that I, not being a Rice fan, shall not be reading it. It's apparently from the POV of 7-yr-old Yeshua.
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m.
Posted on Friday, November 18, 2005 - 05:58 am:   

I saw this one, too, announced at least, but am not likely to go looking for it, at least not very soon. Thanks for the mention, though. And, again, forgive the fact that other obligations have kept me away from this board.
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Mastadge
Posted on Friday, November 18, 2005 - 07:36 am:   

Hmm Walter Wangerin (of Book of the Dun Cow, etc) has a new one out, too: Jesus: A Novel.
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GabrielM
Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 12:43 pm:   

I was just noticing Mast's old question re the Shiel manuscript. My understanding is that one reason it's not been published is that a good deal of it was lost. It certainly was completed and made the rounds at some point -- HG Wells saw a copy although he doesn't seem to have known quite what to do with it. Who has it today I don't know. Shiel's current literary executor is actually the Spanish writer Javier Marias, whom we were posting about on G&F. You could write to him and find out, I'd be curious to know.
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m.
Posted on Thursday, November 24, 2005 - 04:29 pm:   

Good information on Wangerin and Shiel both in the last two postings. Thanks, Mastadge and GabrielM. I probably won't check on the Shiel for a while yet, but it's an interesting lead.
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David Niall Wilson
Posted on Friday, April 07, 2006 - 05:43 pm:   

Thanks Bud...

With the big hoopla over The Book of Judas, I was out searching to see what kind of re-birth it can give my novel, "This Is My Blood," which is now released by Prime as "The Temptation of Blood". In this novel, Mary Magdalene is a fallen angel, raised as a woman to tempt Jesus in the desert. Instead, she loves him, and wants to find her way back to heaven. The reason I'm hoping for a resurgence of interest is the fictional excerpts from The Book of the Gospel Acoording to Judas Iscariot -- their content, and the light in which Judas is portrayed in my novel, mirror this newly translated text pretty closely...

As Bud said...there's an exceprt at my web site...

http://www.macabreink.com/Tempex.htm

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