The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrère (Translated by John Lambert) - review by Karen Armstrong

Karen Armstrong

Losing My Religion

The Kingdom


Allen Lane 384pp £20 order from our bookshop

The French novelist and film-maker Emmanuel Carrère has tried to make sense of his conversion to Christianity and subsequent loss of faith by investigating the tumultuous events that brought the early Church into being. His hero and guide is Luke, the evangelist also credited with writing the Acts of the Apostles. Carrère combines that ‘official’ account with medieval traditions depicting Luke as a Greek physician and artist who painted a portrait of the Virgin Mary. Luke is also said to have accompanied St Paul on his missionary journeys and thus witnessed at first hand the rapid dissemination of the extraordinary idea that Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew crucified by the Roman governor of Judaea in about AD 30, had risen from the dead. Whenever Paul, as he appears in Acts, preached the doctrine of the Resurrection, Carrère says, he ‘cleaved the world as neatly as the blow of an axe. Those who believed, those who didn’t believe: two separate humanities.’ 

Carrère begins his investigation by telling the story of his sudden and emotional conversion to Christianity, which followed a period of depression, writer’s block and uncertainty. He recorded his discoveries in a notebook in which he wrote compulsively and voluminously for hours each day. But – predictably, perhaps

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