In the novel we are exposed to the viewpoints of Mary, Barabbas, and Judas as imagined by Alderman I can get behind historical fiction wherein we take a real place or course of events to set the scene and slide in imaginary characters to build a plot Likewise I enjoy a twist on a known public figure that shows another side of them that is faithful to their overall historical presence but adds a new dimension of storytelling But I really have a problem with a convenient retelling that absolutely butchers the essence of a character we ve come to know through history Jesus punching his father in the face and the other nonsense that goes on in The Liars Gospel is disgusting and the character sketch of Jesus as depicted by Alderman is very offensive to not only Christians but to the record of history What s next, a historical novel about Ghandi detailing his secret role as a fascist, working undercover for the state to stir up insurrection and justification for his friends in power to destroy the people Perhaps a creative retelling of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King recast as a drunkard and adulterer whose main focus was becoming famous and having a movie made about himself Or we could approach it from the other direction and spin a moving story of Hitler and how he was deeply misunderstood I ve read other reviews in a similar vein thus my voice ads to the chorus and so I know what s next cue the godless hoards to leave argumentative comments on this review and attack my coverage of the novel.
interesting novel surrounding the life of Jesus and split into 4 different versions, took me awhile to get into this novel maybe it was the subject title.
Naomi Alderman s new novel, The Liars Gospel is defintely not a book for everyone The book is set in the first century and centered around the life of a Jewish prophet, Yehoshuah Jesus to us Although it is ostensibly a retelling of the story of Jesus, I found Alderman s detailing of the political climate in Jerusalem during the rise and fall of Jesus much interesting The story is told from four viewpoints That of Marym,Yehoshuah s mother, His friend and follower Ieudah of Queriot, the Roman High Priest of Jerusalem, Caiaphas, and the rebel Bar Avo As you read, it is easy to see that Marym is Mary, Ieudah is Judas Iscariot, and Bar Avo is Barrabas I thought that Alderman s decision to tell this tale from 4 vary different viewpoints was a brilliant idea Each character had a different relationship with Jesus and none of them alone could have told the tale completely by themselves The switching of voice throughout the book allows the author to cover, not only the different times periods of Jesus life, but also the different facets of his life Of the four tellings or gospels, per the title I feel the best one was the telling by Judas It is here that we first get to see what political forces are at work in Israel between the occupying Romans and the Jews This political background was the most interesting part of the book to my thinking Since I am not very well versed in the history of Israel, the Jewish faith, or the Roman empire during the time of Tiberius, I found this part of the book illuminating The idea that the political forces at work during this time period could play such a major role in allowing Jesus to gather a following, and therefore, to become both who he was and who he wasn t, was what I liked best about the book One reason that I see this book as than just the retelling of Jesus story, is that the second two gospels those of Caiaphas and Barrabas do not seem to have much to do with Jesus at all Although Caiaphas was the High Priest of Jerusalem during this time, he never really came in contact with Jesus in a large way His focus was in the arena of the political strife between the occupiers and the native populations, and his efforts to reconcile the two In the case of Barrabas, he went on to continue to lead the rebellion of the Jews against the Romans long after Jesus was dead In fact, his story began with the death of Jesus and continued on with the focus on the political For me this was the second best section of the book All in all, I found Alderman to present a thought provoking work that captivated me Both her excellent prose and her development of the characters in the books were definite pluses Not only was she adept at fleshing out the four characters telling the stories, but her attention to the supporting cast of characters was also well done In addition, her ability to tell the story of Jesus from and alternate perspective and make it both believable, and importantly, not disrespectful or preachy, was appreciated As much as I enjoyed the book, at no time did the writing make me question my faith, or give me the idea that Ms Alderman was trying to change my beliefs Only that she was looking at the same story with different eyes As I said, this book is not for everyone, but if you are looking for something that is a little different, looks at something from a totally different direction, and has the ability to bring to light questions and new information, than this is the book for you I am giving it 4 stars, and in fact, enjoyed it much than I thought I might This book was provided to me by Little, Brown and Company through Netgalley in exchange for my review I would like to thank them for the chance to read a book that I would probably not ever looked at on my own I thoroughly enjoyed it I am tempted to give this five stars to help balance many of the one star reviews by people who somehow accidentally found themselves reading a book by a non Christian for the first time and were traumatized and enraged by the unfamiliar experience Honestly, read the one star reviews just for laughs Naomi Alderman retells the story of Israel under Roman occupation and beset by false messiahs, both religious and military Being Jewish, Alderman does not believe that Jesus was a god and this novel is short on magic and miracles although the Jews are desperately waiting for such and the early Christians believe they have found them If those are what you re looking to read about there are many suitable books for you As always, Alderman is brilliant with language and characterization She uses characters from the Christian Gospels but treats them as complicated human beings living in the last days of the Second Temple, as Israel rebels again and again against the mightiest power on earth and is finally utterly destroyed and the Jews exiled for almost two thousand years No character is left as a two dimensional hero or villain, and once again Alderman is Jewish and does not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, so if that sounds infuriating to you don t read this book try The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.
S Lewis instead, or maybe Heaven Is Real by that six year old If you are Jewish, or not allergic to a Jewish perspective on Jewish history, it is a gripping and tragic read, a powerful novel of historical fiction about a nation that looked for a savior in the face of annihilation and found none And everyone should read Alderman s Disobedience A Novel.
An interesting take on a part of human history where myth and history collide There are people, like Julius Caesar, whom we know existed, and about whom we know a fair amount And then there are people like Helen of Troy, lost to pre history, who as likely as not, never existed Jesus of Nazareth is perched awkwardly between these two places, and to my mind, this made Naomi Alderman s story about life in Roman occupied Jerusalem a quite haunting novel about how stories and myths come to be and about what can never be known for certain And so we have a retelling of the parable of the talents which is quite different in its focus from the biblical account And it is not Yehoshuah but the political insurrectionist, Bar Avo, who persuades the fishermen of Galilee to throw their lot in with him It s beautifully written and to this admittedly uneducated reader, the evocation of life in 0BCE Jerusalem feels spot on I don t know if her description of the lines of crucifixes on the road into Jerusalem as screaming trees is originally her own but either way, it s a perfect metaphor for the horrors of crucifixion, which Alderman reminds us, was hardly an exceptional mode of judicial killing at the time somehow, I can t help but picture Mark Lanegan being attracted to the image, which makes me wonder if it is older I liked the way that the book took a well established story although one where I m embarrassingly reliant on a primary school Church of England version which left out a lot of the awkward details and looked at it from a different angle presenting Judas as a disillusioned follower who fears that his leader is becoming a cultish demagogue, and Caiaphas not as a cynical man seeking to get rid of a trouble maker making life difficult for the temple, but as a pragmatic leader in a febrile, difficult environment, doing what he thinks will best protect his people from the might of the Roman Empire.
It s not without its flaws the Epilogue would have been better presented as an author s afterword as it s essentially a just in case you didn t get it, my point is that the myth of Jesus was bad news for the Jews and she d made that point well enough in the main body of the novel I was also never quite sure she d really explained quite why Pontius Pilate had decided to let the people of Jerusalem decide which of Barrabus Bar Avo and Yehoshuah Jesus should live and which should die surely a Roman Prefect would want to be shot of the political insurrectionist, and be largely indifferent to the fate of a religious mystic But perhaps I d missed the point, maybe Pontius Pilate simply wasn t meant to be very clever 4.
5 but I m rounding up It was an interesting idea, writing a book about Jesus from a Jewish perspective, but I was very disappointed The first century characters so obviously belonged in the 21st None of the characters were believable and the character development was stale and predictable Miriam Mary was the most interesting story, but the other three characters Judah aka Judas, Bar Avo aka Barabbas, and Caiaphas as well as their stories all fell flat The cursing and the sexuality in the story so distracted from the world Alderman created that I wasn t able to enjoy it Most significantly, the central character, Yehoshua Jesus was so one dimensional and unimpressive it is difficult to believe that anyone could have mistaken him for the Messiah It would have been much interesting if Alderman had left the question of Yehoshua s credentials open as many Jewish Jesus scholars have done i.
e Daniel Boyarin, and Amy Jill Levine a question of faith Alderman s Yehoshua was self absorbed, arrogant, delusional, and erratic He couldn t have been less compelling I wasn t expecting him to be anointed Messiah or worshipped as Lord, but I wasn t prepared to think that he deserved to be crucified as Alderman portrays him All in all, not worth anyone s time.
And in the midst of all that, one preacher by the name of Jesus died And either something miraculous happened or someone lied This is not the story of Yehoshuah Jesus but of the way his existence affected those around him It is an often bloody tale of a people under Roman occupation, told from the perspectives of Miryam his mother , Iehuda a follower , Caiaphas High Priest of Jerusalem and Bar Avo rebel and murderer.
The first half of the book is sublime Miriam s feelings of betrayal, disappointment and loss in relation to her eldest son, and the strong love she had for him despite all these things, ring so true.
My favourite chapter is that of Iehuda A man who loses faith, finds it again in Yehoshuah and then loses it again when he feels that Yehoshuah is allowing himself to become the centre of things and important than his message and his people Losing one s faith is so very like gaining it There is the same joy, the same terror, the same annihilation of self in the ecstasy of understanding There is the same fear that it will not hold, the same wild hope that, this time, it will One has to lose one s faith many times before one begins to lose faith in faith itself After this it becomes about a city under occupation and the clash between Rome and Jerusalem It is no less compelling and well written, but did not appeal to me as much as the first two chapters However, I still found myself unwilling to put it down, even for a moment.
He Was A Traitor, A Rabble Leader, A Rebel, A Liar And A Pretender To The Throne We Have Tried To Forget Him Here Now, A Year After Yehoshuah S Death, Four People Tell Their Stories His Mother Flashes Between Grief And Rage While Trouble Brews Between Her Village And The Occupying Soldiers Iehuda, Who Was Once Yehoshuah S Friend, Recalls How He Came To Lose His Faith And Find A Place Among The Romans Caiaphas, The High Priest At The Great Temple In Jerusalem, Tries To Hold The Peace Between Rome And Judea Bar Avo, A Rebel, Strives To Bring That Peace Tumbling DownViscerally Powerful In Its Depictions Of The Realities Of The Period Massacres And Riots, Animal Sacrifice And Human Betrayal, The Liars Gospel Finds Echoes Of The Present In The Past It Was A Time Of Political Power Play And Brutal Tyranny And Occupation Young Men And Women Took To The Streets To Protest Dictators Put Them Down With Iron Force Rumours Spread From Mouth To Mouth Rebels Attacked The Greatest Empire The World Has Ever Known The Empire Gathered Its Forces To Make Those Rebels PayAnd In The Midst Of All Of That, One Inconsequential Preacher Died And Either Something Miraculous Happened, Or Someone Lied BABT70 years after the storming of Jerusalem s walls, a mother mourns her preacher son s death BBC blurb In her new novel, the award winning writer Naomi Alderman provides a compelling and challenging fictional account of life in Roman occupied Judea Her novel begins in 63 BC with Pompey s Roman army assailing the fortifications of Jerusalem, and ends with the bloodshed of the Jewish Roman war in the first century CE.
Within this context of Roman brutality and Jewish insurrection, Alderman presents the life and death of a charismatic Jewish preacher, Yehoshuah A year after his death, four people tell their stories his mother, Miryam his former friend and follower Iehuda of Qeriot the High Priest at the great Temple in Jerusalem, Caiaphas and the rebel, Bar Avo.
Read by Stephanie Racine and Tracy Ann ObermanAbridged by Sally MarmionOne started and hoped for some historical insight, but the getting is only an imagined and romanticised intrigue.
Move along, nothing to see.
Produced by Emma HardingAuthor Note Naomi Alderman grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community in north west London Her first novel, Disobedience , was published in ten languages and won the Orange Award for New Writers like her second novel, The Lessons , it was read on BBC Radio 4 s Book at Bedtime In 2007, she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and one of Waterstones 25 Writers for the Future In 2009 she was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award