Bestselling children’s author Philip Pullman has provoked more anger from Christians with a new book denying that Jesus was the son of God.
The book, due to be published next Easter, accepts there was a holy man called Jesus but says the idea of such a divine link came from the ‘fervid imagination’ of the apostle St Paul. Pullman has already been condemned by the Vatican for the allegorical trilogy His Dark Materials, which has been described as anti-Christian.
His new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, is a retelling of the story of Jesus. It draws on the Bible for characters, locations and events, but the author says it reads like a mix between a novel, a history and a fairy tale. Pullman said: 'I wanted it to be like that because it is, among other things, a story about how stories become stories. '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.’
But David McGough, the Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, said: ‘There is no evidence that Paul influenced the Gospels. No respectable scriptural scholar would have anything to do with [Pullman’s] theory.’
Earlier this year Pullman sparked controversy when he announced a boycott of school visits in protest at ‘sinister’ Government checks to ensure that authors are not paedophiles. He claimed the Vetting and Barring Scheme register, which starts in October, will encourage youngsters to view everyone as potential rapists or murderers.
His Dark Materials, on which the film The Golden Compass was based, attracted criticism for promoting atheism.
The film was attacked by the Vatican for portraying ‘a cold and hopeless world without God’.