I was skeptical when I saw this title, but was willing to give this book a shot. I thought I could learn something new about Jesus, or see His life a new way and possibly deepen my faith. I did take a lesson away from this book but not the one I was expecting.
The next words I am going to use are very strong.
This book is a blasphemous heresy. But this is not what I learned.
Even from the first page I knew something was up. It reads “While I would not say that Mark’s gospel is false, it has much exaggeration. And I would offer less for Matthew, and for Luke and John, who gave me words I never uttered and described me as gentle when I was pale with rage” (page 3-4). Obviously the Bible we have today cannot be trusted if this is the case.
From the outset, the author Norman Mailer puts into question the veracity of the historical Book, but he does not stop there. He also has Jesus confess His sins to John the Baptist—so much for a sinless sacrifice (33).
The Son as well gain’s ability from the Devil and loses some of God’s protection: “I could feel how God had enabled me to steal a few skills from the Devil. In truth, I could now employ Satan’s manner when speaking…. I had touched my right hand to his, and knew at the same instant that I had surrendered a share of the Lord’s protection” (68).
The Son lost the “power to cure” therefor God’s power is finite (87). Jesus directly contradicts the love of God by saying “In truth, I abhorred the man” who had just been saved from demon possession (95).
Mailer also has Jesus poo-poo his miracles. With the feeding of the five thousand, all were not satisfied because they were only given bits and morsels. In addition, Mailer’s Jesus did not even think the food and bread was actually enlarged—this was only in the recipients head (116). In another spot, the Son, in the same breath of uttering a prophecy about his resurrection, but does not know if He really will rise on the third day (127).
God ridicules the Son (“He was mocking me.”) when He walks on water (117). Jesus judges by appearance (161), and lusts after the woman caught in adultery and saying of her “she could even be close to God all the while the hands of the Devil embrace her body” (177). I could go on but these are more than enough examples.
The only props I will give to the author is he does quote the Bible accurately, but then again so did Satan.
After reading this book the conclusion I came to was: It’s just a bunch of fairy tales. And I believe this is the author’s intent. The Jesus in this book doesn’t even believe himself. If the reader were to accept what the author reports as Jesus’s words, he or she would end up believing exactly what rocks dream about—nothing. Jesus was just a sinful man who wasn’t even certain about who he actually was. It’s a good thing I was able to read this book in one day because I’m not sure I could have stood reading it for a second.
But again, this is not the valuable lesson I learned.
The valuable lesson was: Nothing replaces knowing your Bible. Nothing. Do I mean reading the Bible? Yes, most assuredly. But in addition, reading about the historical validity of the letters therein and studying the teaching of the Bible—the character of God, soteriology (the study of salvation), harmartiology (the study of sin), and eschatology (study of future things).
If I did not know my Bible, and I claim no greatness in this regard, I might have believed the lies in The Gospel According to the Son. When FBI agents are trained, they do not study fake currency, they study the real thing. Like authentic currency, studying the truth (in this case the Bible) will cause an error to pop out like a pink elephant standing in the living room. This is exactly what happened when I started reading Mailer’s book.
Just in case I didn’t make it plain enough, the only reason to read The Gospel According to the Son is if you want to see how many errors you can spot.
Thoughts and comments? Or if you need some direction on learning about the Bible, post below or sent me an email.