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Fictionalizing Jesus: Story and History in Two Recent Jesus Novels

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From canonical and extra-canonical gospels to the modern phenomenon of the ‘Jesus novel’, people have been fictionalizing Jesus by filling in gaps in the historical and narrative record. This essay inaugurates a field of inquiry by contrasting two recent novels, Norman Mailer’s The Gospel According to the Son (1997) and Nino Ricci’s Testament (2002). In particular it examines how each of the novels depicts the role and character of Judas Iscariot, the question of Jesus’ performance of miracles, as well as how each novel depicts Jesus. In all, the remarkable historical plausibility of these novels, or parts of them, raises the very interesting issue of the relationship between story and history, between fiction and history.

Affiliations: 1: Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada, Email:


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