The Fire Gospel

I demolished The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber in 2 sittings. That’s possibly not much of an achievement since it’s just over 200 pages, but the 2nd reading was sitting up in bed in the middle of the night – and I literally could not stop. The hero Theo Griepenkerl is a bit of a knob, but somehow you follow along his adventure anyway. He’s visiting a museum in Iraq when a bomb goes off.  An ancient statue falls over and breaks open … to reveal papyrus scrolls in its belly. So far, so Dan Brown.

But this ain’t The Da Vinci Code. Theo hops off with his lucky find, and translates the scrolls – written in Aramaic by Malchus, who has a different perspective on the New Testament events. Like Theo, Malchus is a bit grotty and all too human. It’s him who has his ear cut off by the High Priest’s guards as Jesus is arrested.

The story follows Theo’s publication of this fifth gospel, named the Fire Gospel because of the reaction to it. Faith is lost, and found. In a neat section of imaginary Amazon feedback, a reader says:

 … before I read your book I was saved and steadfast in the  Lord. I thought Jesus was holding me in his arms like a baby. Now I am lost and alone. I can see that Jesus was just like me and nothing more, ie , a bunch of bones and guts covered in skin.

This is a visceral read – literally – blood, guts and the byproducts of humanity – and immensely powerful for it.

4 thoughts on “The Fire Gospel

  1. Helen 13 November 2008 / 9:49 am

    Yes, I devoured this one too. And so slim after The Crimson Petal and the White! I thought the section of Amazon feedback was particularly brilliant, as it so humorously showed how different people will take different things from their reading.

  2. Mo-mo 13 November 2008 / 12:41 pm

    I haven’t read The Fire Gospel but protagonists are often “knobs” aren’t they? Persevering on, foibles and all.

    Reading this post got me to wondering about the whole “alternate gospel” thing though as a genre. I know of at least one other book that uses this premise for comedic effect, namely Lamb: the gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal. I wonder if there are many others?

  3. Laza 17 November 2008 / 3:48 am

    Ooo thanks for calling my attention to this book. I absolutely love the Crimson Petal and the White. I’ve bought a bunch of his books, but I just haven’t had a chance to read them. I’m definitely adding this to my TBR pile. Thanks for the reivew!

  4. Can Crusher 25 November 2010 / 6:53 pm

    reading books is my hobby and Dan Brown is one of the best authors that i have known –‘

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s