Books: A Bit Of Gospel Shtick

An audacious novel fleshes out Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness with unexpected comic relief

It takes the Gospel According to Matthew fewer than 50 lines to deal with Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness, about double the length of the following un-King Jamesian summary: the newly baptized Galilean retreats to the Judean desert where he is mocked and enticed by the devil; Jesus does not take the bait; he won't turn stones into bread because man does not live by bread alone; he won't jump from the temple tower to prove his divinity because it is forbidden to presume God's protection; finally, he rejects the Faustian bargain--the world's riches for his soul.

Jim Crace's Quarantine...

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