“Here is something true:
The imagination needs to be strong as the heart, sometimes stronger, because while to heart sustains the body, the imagination sustains the soul.“
—James Goldberg, The Five Books of Jesus
James Goldberg is a Mormon author with Jewish and Sikh roots and these background elements permeate his recent novel, The Five Books of Jesus. The story of Jesus has been told and retold, of course, for centuries. Over the past 200 years or so a “quest for the historical Jesus” has been launched, with archaeologists, theologians, and historians combing records and ruins for evidence of the life and teachings of Jesus. At the same time, another quest was launched—“the quest for the fictional Jesus.” It’s not a quest to disprove the existence of Jesus or the historical accounts of his life; it’s a new genre of writing about Jesus—Jesus novels. The works are as varied as the authors, and they employ a variety of literary strategies and promote different theological perspectives. One scholar who has studied the genre says Jesus novels offer contemporary authors and readers the opportunity to pose new questions and gain new insights from our ancient counterparts.
Find out how Goldberg’s The Five Books of Jesus fits into this genre in this episode of the Maxwell Institute Podcast.
The Five Books of Jesus is available in ebook or classic form. The other book Goldberg recommends during the interview is Kristen Randle, Slumming (New York: HarperTeen, 2003), but it looks like copies are scarce. A great book on Jesus novels in general is Margaret E. Ramey, The Quest for the Fictional Jesus: Gospel Rewrites, Gospel (Re)Interpretation, and Christological Portraits within Jesus Novels (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2013). Thanks to Faded Paper Figures for providing music for this episode.
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