In the two millennia since Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote their separate biographies of Jesus, only a handful of other authors have attempted renditions--Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, and D. H. Lawrence have tried their hands at it; scholars E. P. Sanders and Raymond Brown have produced academic treatises on the historical Jesus. Perhaps the best-known fictional account of the life of Jesus is Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ,
which explores the Son of Man's all-too-human side. Norman Mailer joins these ranks with The Gospel According to the Son.
Not content to chronicle Jesus' life in the form of an apocryphal gospel, Mailer has the chutzpah to crawl inside his title character's head and tell the story from the first-person point of view. Here we get the Prince of Peace's personal account of his temptation by Satan, his three-year ministry, and his agony on the cross. Mailer presents an entirely new kind of passion play, one that remains faithful to the shape of Jesus' life as outlined in the gospels, while daring to imagine the inner life of this most elusive historical figure.
From Library Journal
This novel is exactly what it sounds like: the gospel story retold from Christ's point of view. Although Mailer treats his New Testament sources with respect, Jesus turns out to be just the sort of character one would expect to find in a Norman Mailer novel. He is embarrassed by his Jewish mother and complains that God the Father barely speaks to him. He questions his success in healing the sick and struggles with his growing celebrity. Worse, he waffles on crucial issues like voluntary poverty, alienating Judas and other hardcore revolutionaries. Of particular interest is the central role Mailer assigns to Satan. Jesus believes that God and Satan are equally matched and that neither one will ever get the upper hand. In short, Mailer has concocted a profoundly heretical "gnostic" gospel. The problem is that few readers will have much interest in Mailer's theology, and, taken simply as a novel, the book leaves much to be desired. Recommended mainly for comprehensive collections of Mailer's work.-?Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch., Los Angeles
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.