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The Final Testament of the Holy Bible Imitation Leather – April 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

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

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Imitation Leather: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Gagosian Gallery; 1st edition (April 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935263269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935263265
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland. He is the author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. He lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Ripple on April 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The Rabbis say that all the signs are there from the birth of Ben Zion Avrohom that he is the Messiah. That's a lot of anyone to cope with and, like Jesus, there's much of Ben's early life that is untold here. When he is involved in an horrific accident on a building site that he miraculously survives, albeit with terrible scaring, the prophecies appear to be true. He develops a form of epilepsy during which he appears to speak to God. He is fluent in ancient languages despite never learning them, knows all the Holy books by heart and yet distains all forms of religion, instead spreading his message of love to all who meet him in modern day New York.

As a rule, I believe a book should be judged solely on it's own merits without reference to the person who wrote it. Yet the publishers fill the cover blurb with statements about Frey himself. He has, we are told himself been called a "saviour. A revolutionary, A genius" as well as "a liar. A cheat, A con man". To a British reader, the furore surrounding Frey seems a bit overblown but the fact remains that he comes with a lot of "baggage". Since the publishers concentrate on this, it is perhaps on, this occasion, worth considering the background to the book.

In the UK we don't place such faith in the supreme being and judge of all that is good. By that, of course, I mean Oprah! In 2003 Frey wrote an `autobiography'. It was very good. Oprah loved it. Then it was revealed that some of the `facts' were at least a little stretched. Oprah got mad. Publishers dropped Frey and he became something of a pariah, branded a liar and who knows what else. The fact that Frey is a gifted and interesting writer was worth nothing it seemed. That's the gist of the background.
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44 of 55 people found the following review helpful By NYC Composer on May 14, 2011
Format: Imitation Leather
While I was a sobbing mess at My Friend Leonard, and a huge fan of Frey's work - I, too, was chomping at the bit to get his new novel. There is no denying this man, Frey, is a superbly talented writer. While his newest novel may not be for everyone, it is still well-written, gripping at times, entertaining and ultimately thought-provoking. If this is your first Frey, do start and read his novels in order, beginning with "A Million Little Pieces". Then and only then can you appreciate the phenomenal writing of Frey. Well done James.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Massive Reader on July 10, 2011
Format: Imitation Leather Verified Purchase
This book was long, repetitive, boring. Condescending and racist. I am not a fan of organized religion, but I respect everyone's right to his/her own beliefs. I too believe the human body was constructed to be used and enjoyed. I believe in love. I don't believe that orgies, however much fun they are, express any form of love. James Frey has grasped the concept but was unable to transmit the message. I respect Frey as a writer and enjoyed his other books. I just found this simplistic novel to be heavy-handed and dull.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Israel Boaz Ginsberg on November 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a fan of James Frey. He certainly went off the deep end with this one. There were a few chapters where he really got carried away. Yet that is exactly what I love about his writing and his imagination. He knows no bounds. I live in Jerusalem; Israel. I have lived and witnessed religious fanaticism first hand. You can see the Jerusalem syndrome every day around these parts. People are crazy. People are nuts. In his novel I fell in love with the character BEN. I cant imagine having sex with this Ben. I could more imagine being his mother Ruth. He did a good job with the Jewish descriptions. Even better job with the holy roller Christians. If I were a high school teacher I would want to read this with my students. Yet that may result in job loss. I would highly recommend this book to dead heads; x-cult members; gays.....the gays are gonna love this......and any human who could see out of the box. The ending is so true and sad. The world simply isn't ready for redemption. Too many powerful people who want to control our minds. I respect James Frey for having a unique mind and the guts to express what he really thinks. I would say this is a book about a Messiah named Ben that came too soon. In the back of my mind I can't help but wonder if he was sending messages to Oprah and her Harpo staff. This book would not make her favorite book list. But it made mine.
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63 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Ismail Elshareef VINE VOICE on April 30, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I couldn't wait for this book to come out, considering that Frey's "Bright Shiny Morning (P.S.)" is one of my very few all-time favorite books. I ordered both the $50 leather-bound book and the $10 Kindle edition because I wanted to have the story with me wherever I went; to read it whenever I wanted; to savor it whenever I needed.

Well, it didn't quite pan out that way.

My anticipation was met with a colossal disappointment at the third-rate writing (absolutely uncharacteristic of Frey's, by the way,) embarrassingly indulgent themes, underdeveloped characters (another very odd thing coming from Frey) and overtly preachy agenda. I thought the idea behind the book was brilliant (i.e. love conquers all and organized religion is the source of all evil) but the execution was painfully lacking.

The story is about Ben Zion Avrohom, whom Frey goes to explain, is "also known as Ben Jones, also known as the Prophet, also known as the Son, also known as the Messiah, also known as the Lord God."

Throughout the book, "Ben Jones" reminded me a lot of Jim Jones of Jonestown. It was very disturbing. But I digress...

The book is divided into 16 small chapters, each of which is the story of Ben told from the perspective of a distinct character that meets Ben and is changed by him. There are 12 characters, analogues to the 12 apostles in the Bible, and one of them narrates three chapters.
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