For two thousand years people have spent their lives waiting, praying, fighting, begging, and going to war for the Messiah. They continue to do so, every minute of every day, every day of every year. And yet, as far as we know, the Messiah has never come.
How would a man like Jesus be perceived if he appeared today? How would he live, what would he say, what would he preach and believe? How would society react to him, and what would they to do him? And though he may be the Messiah, he is not the man that has been prayed for over the course of the last two thousand years. He believes religion is a fraud, government is a sham, and that love should be a choice, regardless of gender. He is, as Christ was, everything that religious leaders and government officials fear, what they speak against, and what they destroy. He did not burn books, or picket doctor's offices, or spend his time in religious institutions. He simply preached a message. Love your fellow man.
Written from the perspective of his family, friends, and followers, in the same way the story of Jesus Christ was told in the New Testament, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible is the story of Ben Zion Avrohom, also known as Ben Jones, also known as the Messiah, also known as the Lord God.
In The Final Testament of the Holy Bible James Frey, America's most controversial bestselling writer, has written the most compelling and provocative work of his career.
Author Q&A with James Frey
Q: What inspired the controversial concept behind The Final Testament?
A: It’s something I’ve thought about for 15 years. What would it actually be like if the Messiah arrived, or if Christ returned? Who would that person be, how would they live, what would they believe in, how would we recognize them, and how would society react to them? I don’t claim to have the answers. I just wanted to tell a theoretical version of the story.
Q: You've opted to go with the Gagosian Gallery in New York rather than a traditional publisher. Why did you choose a small art gallery over a traditional publishing house?
A: Gagosian is the most prestigious gallery in the world. And they publish about 50 books a year--beautiful art books that transcend what a writer can do with a traditional publisher. I wanted to make a beautiful book, an object that people would be proud to own and display,something looked and felt like a real Bible, but more contemporary. I have always said that art influences me more than writing does so the idea of working with a gallery made sense to me.
Q: What artists inspired you while writing The Final Testament?
A: I looked at a ton of Renaissance religious art, like Michelangelo and Raphael, Carvaggio. Some of the sculpture Rodin made. Illuminated manuscripts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is a much greater and more substantial body of religious art than there is religious literature.
Q: Could you talk about the design of the book? How involved were you in the process?
A: I was very involved in every step of it, in every decision related to it. I worked with a design firm in London called GTF. They make incredible books, and they were incredible to work with on this project. The goal was to make a beautiful, unique, collectible book.
Q: The Final Testament will be released as a limited-edition $50 printed book and a $150 autographed version, but you're self-publishing the ebook at $10. Do you see a future where the printed book is an expensive object intended for collectors while digital copies are for everyone else?
A: Absolutely. I think the future of publishing, or one version of it, is in physical books for collectors and serious fans and ebooks for mass distribution. I believe in that future and want to be a part of it as early as possible.
Praise for The Final Testament of the Holy Bible - - Bold, brilliant, honest Erica Wagner, The Times Cult American author James Frey's new novel is both a work of art and a bombshell hurled at the religious right ... This book is very good indeed. The story is told through the mouths and eyes of the Messiah's family, his girlfriends, a rabbi, a priest, a federal investigator, all contributing to a picture which is weirdly believable, often extremely moving and sometimes funny ... Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant: every page is great. A N Wilson, Financial Times Frey's execution is fab ... a rolling, riveting headlong novel; one that packs an emotional punch yet never quite loses a little drollness about the nature of the project ... This is a wonderful book, which one picks up with enthusiasm and puts down with reluctance. It bursts with narrative drive Lionel Shriver, The Times The novel itself is compelling as both a thriller and a provocative riposte to religious orthodoxies. Fictions of this kind operate an unusual kind of suspense, in which the main tension is not what might happen but whether certain expected events still will. As a novel rather than theology, though, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible is impressively done, the alternating testimonies distinctively voiced and the twists on the gospel versions nicely judged. The repentant sinner of non-fiction proves to suit fiction Guardian Unputdownable Sunday Times It's a truly brilliant book - beautiful, moving and thoughtful, yet entertaining and gripping too Matthew Cain, Channel 4 A gently humorous, surprisingly plausible, rather charming read Decca Aitkenhead, Guardian Exhilarating ... It grabs you by the throat. The sheer narrative energy takes your breath away. There is an incessant, almost capricious sense of danger in his sentences - a feeling that he is not going to let you relax, that he could take you anywhere at any time ... Frey is a fantastically persuasive storyteller and it is hard not to be moved by all these witnesses - some of them barely more than sketches, but all somewhere convincingly realised, and united by this one, life-transforming experience. Ultimately, however, Frey's biggest achievement is the character of Ben. We only ever see him through the eyes of others, yet this 'ordinary white boy' comes to seem so palpably present, so deeply alive, that the novel's final and inevitable climax feels quite brutal, like a real-life loss Julie Myserson, New Statesman Frey's punchy writing style is still intact ... the book is compulsive reading Elle A work of towering ambition, heartbreaking drama and devilish skill Shortlist A powerful page-turner that questions conventional political and religious mortality She Praise for James Frey - - - James Frey is probably one of the finest and most important writers to have emerged in recent years Guardian Frey really can write. Brilliantly. And if you don't think so, f*** you Evening Standard Mesmerising Independent Extraordinary Spectator Brilliant Now Beautiful, sad, potent, irresistible Elle America's most notorious author Time Magazine