The gospels

The many Jesus-like figures of the ancient world

What people tend to forget about Jesus Christ is that he killed children. As a five-year-old, Jesus was toddling through a village when a small boy ran past, knocking his shoulder. Taking it like any five-year-old would, Jesus shouted after him ‘you shall not go further on your way’, at which point the boy fell down dead. Later, when the boy’s parents admonished Joseph and Mary for failing to raise their son properly, Jesus blinded them. Something to bear in mind next time you ask yourself: ‘What would Jesus do?’ Jesus smites teachers, sells a ‘twin’ into slavery, and has someone crucified in his stead If this story is unfamiliar,

Celebrating Jesus’s female followers: Names of the Women, by Jeet Thayil, reviewed

The gnostic Gospel of Mary has long been the subject of controversy, even as to which of the several Marys who feature in Jesus’s life was its author. It is generally assumed to have been Mary Magdalene, not least because it depicts her regular adversary, St Peter, refusing to credit a woman’s testimony. In Names of the Women, Jeet Thayil challenges Peter, along with 2,000 years of church tradition, by placing Mary Magdalene and 14 other women at the very heart of the gospel story. His intention to retell pivotal incidents from a female perspective is evident from the opening words ‘Mary, write,’ which are repeated in various forms throughout