See, I told you I’d get round to reviewing a book eventually. Took me all day to find the energy but at last I have!
Publication Date: 1st November 2016
Published by: Clink Street Publishing
Price: £11.99 (paperback), £3.49 (kindle)
As Julian Doyle, the editor of Monty Python’s film Life of Brian, watched the comedy teams attempt to be crucified, for the end of their film, he began to notice something was seriously wrong. Checking for images of the crucified Jesus, he found none. The first appearing nearly 400 years after the event. But, not only were there no images of Jesus but not one of anyone else being crucified. And it was not until the first image appeared in 420 AD that the vertical cross replaced the original symbol for Christianity, which was the X shaped Chi-Rho. Our well-known image was clearly an invention by commissioned artists well after the actual event. And that is what Doyle had spotted on the set of Life of Brian, that crucifixion could not, and does not, work, and in this book he describes why.
With further research, he began to notice contradictions within the Biblical text about the death of Jesus, leading him to the shocking possibility that maybe Pontius Pilate did not crucify Jesus after all as all the evidence seemed to suggest that Jesus lived for a decade after Pilate left Judea. Now in this true life detective story Doyle astonishingly uncovers who was the real killer of Jesus Christ.
Behind his jovial and playful style, Julian Doyle conceals a rapier wit with which he cuts and slashes his way through the whole of the crucifixion story with expert analysis, bringing clarity to the Gospel and revealing for the first time a way of understanding what may be the true story of Jesus.
Leading Python Terry Jones has described Doyle as a polymath, and it is this extraordinary range of knowledge – coupled with a curious and accessible approach – that has helped lead him to his discoveries. Remarkable, challenging and possibly very naughty indeed, Crucifixion’s a Doddle is a must-read for Python fans as well as anyone with an inquiring mind.
I read Julian Doyle’s ‘The Gospel According to Monty Python’ last year so was excited when I received an email from the author about this new book.
This book covers the events of ‘Easter week’. My sister the historian has checked it and says that the book does follow the current thinking of academics on the subject so we can get content out of the way quickly here. Questioning the narrative given in the four Gospels, pulling in references from Josephus and from other Gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Nag Hamadi Scrolls, Julian Doyle writes a new narrative that suggests the gospel narrative Jesus was a blending of two separate individuals and that the gospels themselves were altered to fit later agendas. This is not news to anyone, except those who haven’t realised that the Bible isn’t meant to be taken literally. I’m told such ignorant people exist. Random side note: ‘gospel’ comes from ‘good spell’.’Spell’ in this context means news, or song.
On to the writing style. It’s a bit jumbled and goes hither and yon. It feels a bit disjointed to be honest while still managing to make forward progress. The writing is easy to read and engaging. It’s persuasive, and seems aimed at the general reader in a western Christian educational context. (Basically, if you finished your history education at school and think the four gospels of the New Testament are basically accurate accounts of Judea at the time of Jesus’ life, you need to read this. Seriously, the inaccuracies in the gospels are amazing. Cross-referencing between the Bible and Roman documents/contemporary authors make that obvious.)
The tone is meant to be humorous but to be honest I rarely found it funny, certainly less so than ‘The Gospel According to Monty Python’.
I found it very interesting and worth the time. I recommend it.