Carl Olson at Ignatius Press looks at the announcement of Pullman’s new book.
Using the four Gospels as its source, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, which will be published on Wednesday, has the naive young Mary giving birth to twins after a visit by a mysterious stranger claiming to be an angel.
Hmmm, how clever: Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde meets the Four Evangelists. Per the usual rewritings of the life of Jesus (now taken on by approximately 5,267,201 authors, of whom 83.54% deny the existence of Jesus), Pullman relies on the four Gospels while seeking to undermine, subvert, and dismiss much or most of what is in the Gospels. Thus, Pullman’s book “contains manipulated versions of familiar episodes from the Gospels, including the Wise and the Foolish Virgins. According to Pullman: ‘I think my version is much closer to what Jesus would have said. The version in the Gospels is so different from what he said usually.'” This is something like the Jesus Seminar on crack—which is akin to a drunk on crack—when it comes to biblical scholarship. (It is really just a riff on the old “historical Jesus” vs. “Christ of faith” debate. Yawn.) Think of it: Pullman denies that the Gospels aren’t accurate in recording Saying A of Jesus because it doesn’t seem similar enough to Sayings B, Q, and Z, which also appear in the Gospels, but which are accepted as being more legitimate because…um…well…Pullman says so.
Carl’s headline was “Philip Pullman apparently missed the entire 20th century” which is quite appropriate. The title of Pullman’s book also shows that he missed some of the basic apologetics arguments by C.S. Lewis of Lord, Lunatic, or Liar or maybe he has settled on he is both a lunatic and a liar.
What amazes me of the new atheists is the absolute hubris. As if nobody throughout the history of Christianity noticed the differences in the Gospel accounts. It is so obvious that they have never even attempted to see what the Christian defense to their arguments might be and just plow on as if they are saying something valuable and unique. Their amazing insights to aid us poor ignorant Christians who have never attempted to bring reason to the Gospels.
The new atheists such as Pullman also seem to have also missed the 13th century. They would learn a lot from the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas and how he answered questions. While they obviously are not going to argue on the same side of this saint, at least they could take up the format. St. Thomas Aquinas presented the arguments of others accurately and in many cases made better arguments for a position then had been originally presented. He took opposing arguments seriously and then responded to them. The new atheists don’t even erect a strawman. The amount of straw they use might fill up part of a trouser leg or a shirt sleeve, but not a full strawman. Maybe they are waiting for evolutionary forces to create a full strawman from a primordial straw bale.
As a former atheist the new atheists rather embarrass me. Give me an honest atheist seeking the truth any day. But dogmatic atheism is another story.