Most people's views on Jesus have been warped by Christianity. This is a shame. Even a cursory reading of the Gospels reveals a far more dashing figure than the cosy, pitying and above all loving icon that is outlined for us by the guardians of our soft modern faith. What can we learn of Jesus in church nowadays? Only the saccharine side of course: we are told of an effete, kiddy-hugging Jesus, a BBC Jesus, a sorrowful, hangdog Jesus who shares almost nothing with the eponymous petulant, hyperbolic buccaneer of the New Testament. Christianity offers its adherents a castrated god, one that Nietzsche described as 'a crutch, a decadent ... a low-water mark in the evolution of the godlike type'. When did you ever hear your parish priest read Matthew 10:34 from his pulpit – 'Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have come not to bring peace, but a sword'; or Luke 14:26, 'If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple'; or Luke 19:27 (a passage described in the book under review as 'a shambles'), 'But as for those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me'?
Those who are of sane mind, and are able to prevent their faith from clouding their judgement, those who have properly examined the Gospels, are unified in the view that Jesus, fascinating though he was as an icon of cultural history, did not say or do a single sensible or