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King Jesus: A Novel Paperback – October 1, 1981


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (October 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780374516642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374516642
  • ASIN: 0374516642
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"My solution to the problem of Jesus's nativity implies a rejection of tke mystical Virgin Birth doctrine, which no longer has the same force in religious polemics as it had in Justin's day; to the mass of people nowadays the choice is between a Jesus bom in the ordinary course ofnature and one as mythical as Perseus and Prometheus."--From the Author's Commentary

"This is not reading for the easily shocked; it definitely presents Jesus as a sage and a poet, if not divine. It moves, as does all Mr. Graves' writing, at a brilliant fast pace, and with a tremendous style."--Kikus Reviews

"Mr. Graves is a poet; both the knowledge of a scholar and the imagination of a poet are brought to bear upon Jesus as child, boy, and man. The book is a bold speculative adventure."--Harold Brighouse, Manchester Guardian

About the Author

Robert Graves (1895-1985) was a British poet, novelist, translator, and critic. His many books include the historical novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God, the autobiography Good-bye to All That, and the mythic/literary studies The White Goddess and The Greek Myths.

Customer Reviews

It is a very interesting book to read.
Alok Chakrabarti
In doing so, he derives a plausible and very human historical Jesus, including his lineage as a legitimate heir to the throne of David.
Janice Nelson
Graves was a scholar of Hebrew religion and he brings his considerable knowledge of the Hebrew faith to the novel.
C. B Collins Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful By michael huff on October 24, 1997
Format: Paperback
Reading this book is a rewarding challenge. It's weird, esoteric, and somehow simultaneously iconoclastic and reverent. As is often the case with Graves, it's clear that he's done a lot of serious research, and from there has gone off on his own curious tangents. (It looks like he got some material from Robert Eisler's book from the '20s, "The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist"). Graves's methods drive some scholars crazy, because they want a clear line drawn between the research and the tangents. "King Jesus" is clearly more propaganda for Graves's "White Goddess" theology, but as propaganda it's great fun. Indulge Graves early on in the book--material that may seem pointless eventually does inform what follows. With few exceptions, the book is sympathetic to Judaism, but the exceptions should not be read as anti-Semitism; rather, the reader should recognize that Graves is equally discriminatory towards all religions where they don't gibe with his White Goddess-ism.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By C. B Collins Jr. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Having grown up in an Episcopalian family in the Southeastern US, I am very familiar with Christ the Savior from St.John's gospel and the epistles of Paul. Graves offers the viewer two alternative interpreations of Jesus in his book,King Jesus. These two alternative views are based on Hebrew concepts of a political/military messiah and the mystery religion of the triple goddess, which requires the sacrifice of the goddess's consort to bless the land and people with his sacrificial blood. There is no doubt that these two world-views, religions, concepts were dominant in the Mediterranean Roman world. For example, St. Paul's epistles strongly condemn the mystery religions of the triple goddess, which he identies as Artemis (also known as Diana in Roman mythology).

I realize that my many fundamentalists Christian friends would find this book disturbing but I would invite them to read this exceptional historic novel to gain more insight into the Hebrew concept of a worldly military messiah destined to overthrow Roman domination or the concept of the consort of the triple goddess, destined to be sacrificed for the well being of the land and people.

First, the book is a political novel about the efforts of the Hebrew leadership to bring about the birth and development of a young man to be their military leader and savior. Jesus is the son of Mary and Herod's oldest son,Antipater, hidden in the home of Joseph until the time he will arise as the Hebrew ruler. Graves was a scholar of Hebrew religion and he brings his considerable knowledge of the Hebrew faith to the novel.
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Easy reading this ain't, especially while you're first trying to get into it, but it's hard to think of a more rewarding way to spend your time and intellectual effort. The research is astonishing, the hypothesis is brilliant and revelatory, the theology flawless and the narrative lucid and inspiring. Moreover despite Graves' atheism the novel remains utterly respectful of Jesus Christ. A riveting book with which I expect to bore my friends by quoting for probably the rest of my life.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Irvin A Hansen on July 25, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
King Jesus is pure historical romance, a prose masterpiece, a poetically allegorical phenomenon. Blow away the pussywillow's outer flowering and what you hold is the wish granting root and stem; eliminate the metaphor and symbol from the central principle of "King Jesus" and what you find is the actual entity of this heroic figure in Western art, philosophy and religion. I must admit I am a "Johnny come lately" to the wonders that is Jesus Christ. I am a Buddhist by faith, with a kind of theosophical attitude towards all religions; I have tried to appreciate the meaning and significance of Jesus over the years, reading Renan, Schweitzer, Steiner, and most recently A.N. Wilson. Robert Graves has existed in my pantheon of great writers since the late sixties. I read his translation of Apulieus, his poetry, and puzzled over the White Goddess for years. They say timing is everything when it comes to appreciating great literature or works of art. Now the time has come for me to recommend this exceptional literary gem. Anyone familiar enough with the author must note the liturgical thread running throughout his writings: Graves, the poet priest, so to speak, of the Goddess Isis. Here, in this novel, you get our savior, the Christ or "Chrestman," in all the sacrificial and cocksure glory of Frazer, projected out of a chilling virtual reality, paying the ultimate price for all psychic sins and one sided human development. In this nightmare vision to the well known and often told tale, resplendent with a fervent reality beyond the dream within a dream, I find a most endearing and honorable person of rare and supremely authentic quality. Like one of those "prophetic birds" written of in The White Goddess, (c.f., P.Read more ›
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dave McGrath on April 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
The thesis of the book is really brilliant. How would an historian in the first centuries of the first millenium view the life of Jesus, the so called "King Of The Jews"? The act of imagination that Graves has taken is breath taking. He fleshes out most of the gaps and mysteries surrounding the Gospels, without attacking or defending Christianity. The book could have been a cringe inducing "Da Vinci Code" but it is a great example of the historical novel.
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