Late twentieth-century Jesus novels carve out a completely new picture of Jesus. Those written by Norman Mailer, Jose Saramago, Michele Roberts, Marianne Fredriksson, and Ki Longfellow, among others, provide inversive revisions of the canonical Gospels. Their adaptations often turn into a critique of the whole of Christian history. The contrast novels investigated in this study end up with appropriations that are based on prototypical rewriting. They aim at the rehabilitation of Judas, and some of them make Mary Magdalene the key figure of Christianity. Saramago describes God as a bloodthirsty tyrant, and Mailer makes God battle the devil in a ""Manichaen"" sense as with an equal. The main result of this intertextual analysis is that these authors have adopted Nietzschean ideas in their writing. An attack on the so-called biblical slave morality and violent concept of God deprives Jesus of his Jewish messianic identity, makes Old Testament law a contradiction of life, calls sacrificial soteriology a violent paradigm supporting oppression, and presents God as a cruel monster. As a result, Jewish faith appears in a negative light. Apparently, Western culture still harbours anti-Judaic attitudes, albeit hidden beneath sentiments of equality and tolerance. Timo Eskola skillfully shows that despite the evident post-Holocaust consciousness present in the novels, they actually adopt an arrogant and ironic refutation of Jewish beliefs and Old Testament faith. ""Not since Theodore Ziolkowski's Fictional Transfiguration of Jesus have Jesus novels been subjected to such a searching critique. Eskola emphasizes contrasting, revisionist, even atheist fictional gospels centered on Judas, Mary Magdalene, or a human, fallible Jesus. He takes us in the opposite direction of Ziolkowski's heroes and humane moral exemplars towards contemporary fictions that displace Jesus from the center of his own story, or depict him as a deluded victim of a monstrous torturer God."" -Suzanne Keen Thomas Broadus Professor of English Washington and Lee University ""Timo Eskola provides a provocative examination of contemporary Jesus novels, arguing that they not only reinterpret but also frequently pervert traditional notions of Jesus. He marshals an impressive knowledge of literary adaptations of the Gospels, present-day literary theories, and theology. His insightful analysis of the Nietzschean roots of Jesus novels as well as their submerged anti-Judaism will invite discussion and debate about the nature of God and faith."" -Heta Pyrhonen Associate Professor University of Helsinki Timo Eskola is Privatdozent of New Testament in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Helsinki, and a doctoral candidate in comparative literature at University of Helsinki. He is the author of Theodicy and Predestination in Pauline Soteriology (1998) and Messiah and the Throne (2001). n
Evil Gods and Reckless Saviours by Timo Eskola was published by Pickwick Publications in September 2011. The ISBN for Evil Gods and Reckless Saviours is 9781498259255.