I am tempted to give this five stars to help balance many of the one star reviews by people who somehow accidentally found themselves reading a book by a non Christian for the first time and were traumatized and enraged by the unfamiliar experience Honestly, read the one star reviews just for laughs Naomi Alderman retells the story of Israel under Roman occupation and beset by false messiahs, both religious and military Being Jewish, Alderman does not believe that Jesus was a god and this no I am tempted to give this five stars to help balance many of the one star reviews by people who somehow accidentally found themselves reading a book by a non Christian for the first time and were traumatized and enraged by the unfamiliar experience Honestly, read the one star reviews just for laughs Naomi Alderman retells the story of Israel under Roman occupation and beset by false messiahs, both religious and military Being Jewish, Alderman does not believe that Jesus was a god and this novel is short on magic and miracles although the Jews are desperately waiting for such and the early Christians believe they have found them If those are what you re looking to read about there are manysuitable books for you As always, Alderman is brilliant with language and characterization She uses characters from the Christian Gospels but treats them as complicated human beings living in the last days of the Second Temple, as Israel rebels again and again against the mightiest power on earth and is finally utterly destroyed and the Jews exiled for almost two thousand years No character is left as a two dimensional hero or villain, and once again Alderman is Jewish and does not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, so if that sounds infuriating to you don t read this book try The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S Lewis instead, or maybe Heaven Is Real by that six year old If you are Jewish, or not allergic to a Jewish perspective on Jewish history, it is a gripping and tragic read, a powerful novel of historical fiction about a nation that looked for a savior in the face of annihilation and found none And everyone should read Alderman s Disobedience A Novel what a book and to read it by coincidence in the weekend of Easter too bloody for me at times but not less reliable alternative for the story of Jesus then the version we know All the characters are so human no one is just godly or just a traitor my favorite character was Kajafas wife. The Liars Gospel by Naomi Alderman is a creative retelling of life in Israel under Roman occupation and early on centers on Jesus Alderman s crafting of words is superb so it s quite disappointing that she put her talent to work slandering a public figure in such an offensive manner.In the novel we are exposed to the viewpoints of Mary, Barabbas, and Judas as imagined by Alderman I can get behind historical fiction wherein we take a real place or course of events to set the scene and slide The Liars Gospel by Naomi Alderman is a creative retelling of life in Israel under Roman occupation and early on centers on Jesus Alderman s crafting of words is superb so it s quite disappointing that she put her talent to work slandering a public figure in such an offensive manner.In the novel we are exposed to the viewpoints of Mary, Barabbas, and Judas as imagined by Alderman I can get behind historical fiction wherein we take a real place or course of events to set the scene and slide in imaginary characters to build a plot Likewise I enjoy a twist on a known public figure that shows another side of them that is faithful to their overall historical presence but adds a new dimension of storytelling But I really have a problem with a convenient retelling that absolutely butchers the essence of a character we ve come to know through history Jesus punching his father in the face and the other nonsense that goes on in The Liars Gospel is disgusting and the character sketch of Jesus as depicted by Alderman is very offensive to not only Christians but to the record of history What s next, a historical novel about Ghandi detailing his secret role as a fascist, working undercover for the state to stir up insurrection and justification for his friends in power to destroy the people Perhaps a creative retelling of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King recast as a drunkard and adulterer whose main focus was becoming famous and having a movie made about himself Or we could approach it from the other direction and spin a moving story of Hitler and how he was deeply misunderstood I ve read other reviews in a similar vein thus my voice ads to the chorus and so I know what s next cue the godless hoards to leave argumentative comments on this review and attack my coverage of the novel Naomi Alderman s new novel, He was a traitor, a rabble leader, a rebel, a liar and a pretender to the throne We have tried to forget him here Now, a year after Yehoshuah s death, four people tell their stories His mother flashes between grief and rage while trouble brews between her village and the occupying soldiers Iehuda, who was once Yehoshuah s friend, recalls how he came to lose his faith and find a place among the Romans Caiaphas, the High Priest at the great Temple in Jerusalem, tries to hold the peace between Rome and Judea Bar Avo, a rebel, strives to bring that peace tumbling downViscerally powerful in its depictions of the realities of the period massacres and riots, animal sacrifice and human betrayal, The Liars Gospel finds echoes of the present in the past It was a time of political power play and brutal tyranny and occupation Young men and women took to the streets to protest Dictators put them down with iron force Rumours spread from mouth to mouth Rebels attacked the greatest Empire the world has ever known The Empire gathered its forces to make those rebels payAnd in the midst of all of that, one inconsequential preacher died And either something miraculous happened, or someone lied interesting novel surrounding the life of Jesus and split into 4 different versions, took me awhile to get into this novel maybe it was the subject title. It was an interesting idea, writing a book about Jesus from a Jewish perspective, but I was very disappointed The first century characters so obviously belonged in the 21st None of the characters were believable and the character development was stale and predictable Miriam Mary was the most interesting story, but the other three characters Judah aka Judas, Bar Avo aka Barabbas, and Caiaphas as well as their stories all fell flat The cursing and the sexuality in the story so distracted f It was an interesting idea, writing a book about Jesus from a Jewish perspective, but I was very disappointed The first century characters so obviously belonged in the 21st None of the characters were believable and the character development was stale and predictable Miriam Mary was the most interesting story, but the other three characters Judah aka Judas, Bar Avo aka Barabbas, and Caiaphas as well as their stories all fell flat The cursing and the sexuality in the story so distracted from the world Alderman created that I wasn t able to enjoy it Most significantly, the central character, Yehoshua Jesus was so one dimensional and unimpressive it is difficult to believe that anyone could have mistaken him for the Messiah It would have been muchinteresting if Alderman had left the question of Yehoshua s credentials open as many Jewish Jesus scholars have done i.e Daniel Boyarin, and Amy Jill Levine a question of faith Alderman s Yehoshua was self absorbed, arrogant, delusional, and erratic He couldn t have been less compelling I wasn t expecting him to be anointed Messiah or worshipped as Lord, but I wasn t prepared to think that he deserved to be crucified as Alderman portrays him All in all, not worth anyone s time This book is brilliant I am a deep lover of the time period, so I stand biased, but Naomi Alderman s reimagination of the period, weaving of actual historical reports I am hard pressed to call anything fact when the experts so vehemently disagree and novelist projections, is riveting to me I will think of her rendition for a long time.I know I read her Orange Award winning book, Disobedience, when it came out, but did not record it on Goodreads I loved how she interspersed some LGBT roo This book is brilliant I am a deep lover of the time period, so I stand biased, but Naomi Alderman s reimagination of the period, weaving of actual historical reports I am hard pressed to call anything fact when the experts so vehemently disagree and novelist projections, is riveting to me I will think of her rendition for a long time.I know I read her Orange Award winning book, Disobedience, when it came out, but did not record it on Goodreads I loved how she interspersed some LGBT roots in this book as well I truly loved this book The writing is magnificent, her characters are incredibly fleshed out with their own voices Miryam, mother of Yehoshua Mourning, keening, melodramatically loving her firstborn son Even as I shook my head, I completely sympathized with her mother s love You know the type, she loves her son despite his faults When he turns away from her she misses him She mourns his loss when he leaves home long before he is hung on the cross I felt her sorrow and her love It crus I truly loved this book The writing is magnificent, her characters are incredibly fleshed out with their own voices Miryam, mother of Yehoshua Mourning, keening, melodramatically loving her firstborn son Even as I shook my head, I completely sympathized with her mother s love You know the type, she loves her son despite his faults When he turns away from her she misses him She mourns his loss when he leaves home long before he is hung on the cross I felt her sorrow and her love It crushed my heart as he must have crushed hers.Iehuda, the betrayer A man who truly believes in God and wishes to follow a teacher who he is drawn to A man he feels compelled to sit and speak and debate with, in the true spirit of brotherhood, philosophy, betterment He observes firsthand the subtle shift of thinking in Yehoshua s group over time What happened to their ideologies of bringing the word of their god to others When did it become about Yehoshua instead Caiaphas, the High Priest of the Great Temple in Jerusalem This man is one in line of men chosen as both a religious leader and diplomat for his people during a reign of occupation How does one even juggle religious zealotry with political consequences Very, very delicately and precariously The history and the fate of the Jews lies in the folds of these robes One wanted teacher of many is easy enough to hand over to appease Pilate who is massacring civilians in the streets for their unruly protests Bar Avo, the dissident Rebel Extremist Terrorist Hero Freedom fighter Pick your side and pick your title This man fought in the underground for the freedom of the people of Jerusalem from Roman control Eventually imprisoned with Yehoshua, the pacifist who preached love your enemy, yet this violent one was chosen by the people in Pilate s game of one lives, one dies They wouldn t let one of their local heroes die before another unknown teacher from far away.Look, read the book description Then you know what this book is about It s about a controversial figure in religion told as historical fiction This is not the King James Bible, which is a collection of selected writings, like any compilation put together by an editor fact, fiction, poetry, etc Now, if that last sentence bothered you, then this book is probably not for you If you re reading this book s blurb and reviews out of interest and that didn t bother you, then this book may be a book for you I highlighted this bit of conversation between Bar Avos and a fresh, still hopeful Isaac that I thought is poetically poignant to this book and the entire topic really He was a Jew, Yehoshuah If he were even as loved as that a Jew might not the Empire soften towards us Bar Avos looks at him What a kindhearted boy he is How did he get to be so simple, in a world this hard Bar Avos speaks very quietly and low and very slowly Rome hates us, he says We are their conquered people and we are dust under their feet But if Listen If they want something from us, they will take it They will not stop hating us They will finda way to say that the thing they want was never ours to begin with I, for one, loved it An interesting take on a part of human history where myth and history collide There are people, like Julius Caesar, whom we know existed, and about whom we know a fair amount And then there are people like Helen of Troy, lost to pre history, who as likely as not, never existed Jesus of Nazareth is perched awkwardly between these two places, and to my mind, this made Naomi Alderman s story about life in Roman occupied Jerusalem a quite haunting novel about how stories and myths come to be and An interesting take on a part of human history where myth and history collide There are people, like Julius Caesar, whom we know existed, and about whom we know a fair amount And then there are people like Helen of Troy, lost to pre history, who as likely as not, never existed Jesus of Nazareth is perched awkwardly between these two places, and to my mind, this made Naomi Alderman s story about life in Roman occupied Jerusalem a quite haunting novel about how stories and myths come to be and about what can never be known for certain And so we have a retelling of the parable of the talents which is quite different in its focus from the biblical account And it is not Yehoshuah but the political insurrectionist, Bar Avo, who persuades the fishermen of Galilee to throw their lot in with him It s beautifully written and to this admittedly uneducated reader, the evocation of life in 0BCE Jerusalem feels spot on I don t know if her description of the lines of crucifixes on the road into Jerusalem as screaming trees is originally her own but either way, it s a perfect metaphor for the horrors of crucifixion, which Alderman reminds us, was hardly an exceptional mode of judicial killing at the time somehow, I can t help but picture Mark Lanegan being attracted to the image, which makes me wonder if it is older I liked the way that the book took a well established story although one where I m embarrassingly reliant on a primary school Church of England version which left out a lot of the awkward details and looked at it from a different angle presenting Judas as a disillusioned follower who fears that his leader is becoming a cultish demagogue, and Caiaphas not as a cynical man seeking to get rid of a trouble maker making life difficult for the temple, but as a pragmatic leader in a febrile, difficult environment, doing what he thinks will best protect his people from the might of the Roman Empire.It s not without its flaws the Epilogue would have been better presented as an author s afterword as it s essentially a just in case you didn t get it, my point is that the myth of Jesus was bad news for the Jews and she d made that point well enough in the main body of the novel I was also never quite sure she d really explained quite why Pontius Pilate had decided to let the people of Jerusalem decide which of Barrabus Bar Avo and Yehoshuah Jesus should live and which should die surely a Roman Prefect would want to be shot of the political insurrectionist, and be largely indifferent to the fate of a religious mystic But perhaps I d missed the point, maybe Pontius Pilate simply wasn t meant to be very clever 4.5 but I m rounding up