Dublin Writers Festival and Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman is an English writer born in 1946 who spent his early childhood in Norfolk with his grandfather a clergyman. His father died in an RAF accident in Kenya when he was 7 and his mother remarried and moved to Wales. Pullman studied English at Oxford.

He will be in conversation with Fintan O’Toole in TCD at the Dublin Writers Festival. Recently his latest narrative was published “The good man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ” by Canongate. Pulman alters the familiar conventional tale to Mary having twins, one Jesus hale and hearty and the other Christ a shy timid small guy. Pulman interviewed in the FT says “Oh, Jesus existed. I have do doubt about that – that he was born in Palestine, that he was crucified for political reasons by the Romans. But the Christ part has always been a myth. Paul and the author of the gospels according to St John were the originators of all that kind of stuff.” Paul calls him Jesus about 30 times, Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ about 60 times and calls him Christ alone about 150 plus times in the New Testament.

Pullman is a non-believer but “even though I believe there is no God, that does not stop the questions I ask being religious questions…. About life and fate and meaning and purpose and all that sort of stuff….. I think they are important.”

He has been embroiled in controversy by writing about Adam and Eve recast as children and of the death of God. He has been a target of Christian Groups in the US and of l’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Newspaper. He tackled organised religion in “His Dark Materials” trilogy – a work of fantasy.

Pulman’s version of Jesus moves from entreaty to anger and then to acceptance that there is no God. Pulman has jesus in the agony in the garden of Gethsemane whisper “You’re not listening. I’ve been speaking to you all my life and all I’ve heard back is silence”. This is like a paraphrase of the Matthew and Mark’s gospels “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But Pulman goes on to draw a different conclusion of nothingness.