Phillip Pullman's Jesus story is a boundary-breaking novel, but a pretty conventional app

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The new book from Phillip Pullman out from Wednesday is getting a lot of attention for two reasons: 1) The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a retelling of the story of the world-famous Bible story, 2) it’s also being released as an iPhone app.

Only one of those features is making it unpopular with the religious establishment.

Phillip Pullman’s stance on religion is well-known. His famous Northern Lights triology is an intentional satire on the bureaucracy of the church and his new story is proving to be pretty controversial, garnering him a few threats of eternal damnation.

The gist of Pullman’s retelling of the Bible story is that Jesus had a manipulative twin brother, Christ, who tempted him in the wilderness and betrayed him to the authorities. The Guardian sketches out the book’s story:

Using the four Gospels as its source, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ has the naive young Mary giving birth to twins after a visit by a mysterious stranger claiming to be an angel. The babies grow up into the physically robust, straight-talking, straightforward Jesus and the bookish, calculating, often morally tortured Christ.

His take on app-making is a bit less revolutionary. The app of the book is multimedia, but it’s not pushing any boundaries. It includes a full ebook, the unabridged audiobook read by the author and synchronised to the text, as well as exclusive video interviews.

The best feature seems to be the audio/text swap over. Say you tire of peering at your screen you can just plug the earphones in, sit back and listen to the story from exactly where you left off.

It’s a good idea to actively enrich the content available on iPhone apps. And giving the film video interviews available after the book is a nice touch. Only catch might be the price. At £9.99 it is comparable to the price of a book, but significantly more than the average app.

Anna Leach

7 comments

  • I just find it weird that this is the story of Jesus and his brother Christ, of how they were born, of how they lived and of how one of them died. The death of the other is not part of the story. So, Jesus has a brother now?

  • Eternal life is not a ticket we hold, but a lifestyle we inhabit. If we follow the resurrected Jesus, we have to practice resurrection.

  • Every sincere Christian wants to have a more meaningful personal Bible study, to understand the Bible better. While learning the Bible is the joyful task of a lifetime, I’d like to offer several suggestions that can enrich your Bible studies.

  • There are many good things that are back in the Old Testament. I feel the New Testament is a revelation of who Jesus Christ is and the Old Testament is a revelation of who God the Father is. This is why Christians need to read both Books in order to get a handle on who both God and Jesus really are.

  • There are many good things that are back in the Old Testament. I feel the New Testament is a revelation of who Jesus Christ is and the Old Testament is a revelation of who God the Father is. This is why Christians need to read both Books in order to get a handle on who both God and Jesus really are.

  • Just downloaded this onto my iPhone! This is one of the most seamless apps I’ve come across in a while. It might not be revolutionary, but it does everything it should – flicking between text and audio is a great feature, and I’m expecting good things from the news-y feed. I don’t think it always has to be about pushing the boundaries, but providing a great all-round user experience – which this definitely does!

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