His mother, Miryam, mourns him and his abandonment of his birth family; Iehuda can’t accept his charismatic friend’s intolerance for dissent and growing sense of entitlement and feels obligated to betray him. For Caiaphas, high priest of Jerusalem’s temple, subduing one rabble-rousing preacher is of lesser importance than appeasing Pontius Pilate and questioning his wife’s fidelity, while Bar-Avo (Barabbas) incites violence against his people’s oppressors.
Fabrications about Yehoshuah are spoken by many, whether to entertain, mislead, or provide comfort to others. Alderman presents an unabashedly Jewish perspective, and she re-creates first-century Judea, a land subjugated by tyrannical Rome, in intense, brutal detail. Religion and politics deeply intertwine in this profound work, which expresses blunt truths about leadership while exploring the healthy nature of debate about one’s faith.
The Liars' Gospel was published in March by Little, Brown (hb, $25.99, 320pp). Viking published it in the UK, and it's now out in paperback there (£8.99). I covered this one for Booklist's Feb 15th issue. Since then, I've been reading others' opinions about this novel, and since it reinterprets the life of Jesus, the reaction is about what I expected. Some Christian readers find it "borderline blasphemous" (as one Amazon reviewer did), while for others, it will stimulate and enlighten as it presents a new perspective on a story well known to most of us. Perhaps more than anything else, it exposes recorded history as the malleable, contentious, and biased thing that it is. I found it thought-provoking and very much worth reading.