Pullman gets hate mail for ‘Scoundrel Christ’

Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman condemned to hell for suggesting St Paul invented the idea that Jesus was the Son of God

BY Tim Edwards LAST UPDATED AT 06:39 ON Mon 22 Mar 2010

The novelist Philip Pullman has been condemned to hell by Christian fundamentalists upset by his provocatively titled new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. He claims to have received "scores" of threatening letters before the book has even been published.

"Many refer to the title itself, for which there is clearly a passionate objection from some out there," Pullman, author of the anti-religious children's trilogy His Dark Materials, told the Sunday Times.

"The letter writers essentially say that I am a wicked man, who deserves to be punished in hell. Luckily it's not in their power to do anything like sending me there."

After portraying God as a senile old man in The Amber Spyglass, Pullman suggests in his new book, due to be published on March 31, that while Jesus did indeed exist, St Paul invented the idea that he was the Son of God.

Explaining his take on St Paul last year, Pullman said: "By the time the gospels were being written, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether new and extraordinary, and some of his version influenced what the gospel writers put in theirs.

"Paul was a literary and imaginative genius of the first order who has probably had more influence on the history of the world than any other human being, Jesus certainly included. I believe this is a pity."

Christian letter writers can take comfort from the fact that The Good Man Jesus… comes under the heading 'Myths'. This is a series of books published by Canongate, which has already seen Margaret Atwood rewrite The Odyssey from the point of view of Odysseus's wife Penelope, and Michel Faber invent the discovery of a fifth Gospel, in which a newly discovered eye-witness to Christ's last days writes that his final words on the cross were "please somebody, please finish me off". · 

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