Michèle Roberts

Gospel Truths

The Fire Gospel


Canongate Books 213pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Writers down the centuries have chosen to regard the Bible as man-made literature, rather than solely as a work dictated by God and set in stone, and have accordingly felt inspired to rewrite and criticise it. Twenty-five years ago, when feminism flourished, I imagined a fifth gospel as a long-hidden scroll, a radical alternative text written by Mary Magdalene presenting not only the humanity and sexuality of Jesus but also the female contribution to theology. This was published in 1983 as The Wild Girl. Now Michel Faber has picked up the idea of a fifth gospel and woven a comedy around it in order to satirise the excesses of fundamentalist religion flourishing in our confused modern culture. His novel takes its place in Canongate’s Myths series, which has opened up a space for writers to carry on the tradition of reinterpreting ancient stories and questioning whether they nourish or imprison us.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,
    • In this month's 'Silenced Voices', looks at the case of Azimjon Askarov, the journalist and human rights… ,