The Quest for the Fictional Jesus: Gospel Rewrites, Gospel (Re)Interpretation, and Christological Portraits within Jesus Novels

By Margaret E. Ramey

An exploration of fictional portrayals of Jesus and how their study can offer new approaches to the interpretation of the canonical Gospels.

ISBN: 9780718894887


For almost two millennia, Jesus’ story has been retold in various forms and fashions but in the last century a new way of reimagining the man from Galilee has sprung up in the form of novels about the life of Jesus. While the novels themselves are as varied as their authors, this work aims to introduce readers to some common literary strategies and theological agendas found in this phenomenon by surveying a few prominent examples. It also explores the question of what happens when we examine the intertextual play between these reimaginings and their Gospel progenitors as we allow these contemporary novels to pose new questions to their ancient counterparts. An intriguing hermeneutical circle ensues as we embark on our quest for the fictional Jesus and accompany his incarnations as they lead us back to re-examine the canonical portraits of Jesus anew.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 226

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Margaret E. Ramey is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.


Introduction: Jesus and Jesus Stories

Part I: From Jesus to Jesus Texts
1. Prolegomenon to Fictionalizing Jesus

Part II: From the New Testament to New Texts
2. Anne Rice’s Out Of Egypt as A Complementing Rewrite
3. Neil Boyd’s The Hidden Years as A Complementing Rewrite
4. Nino Ricci’s Testament as A Competing Rewrite
5. José Saramago’s The Gospel According To Jesus Christ as a Competing Rewrite
Part III: From New Texts back to the New Testament
6. The Temptation: From Gospel Sources to Gospel Rewrites
7. A Preposterous Reading of the Temptation and Its Narrative Role in Matthew’s Gospel

Works Consulted


Endorsements and Reviews

In this bold experiment, Meg Ramey’s nimble examination of selected Jesus novels enables her to frame key issues in the reception history of the Jesus story and to approach New Testament texts afresh in light of that framework. If the hermeneutical flow of this study is refreshing, so too are its many contributions. A welcome enquiry into a neglected but important field of research.
Bruce W. Longenecker, Chair of Religion, Baylor University

A book-length study of representations of Jesus in fiction is long overdue, and this one serves as an erudite and creative benchmark.
Zeba Crook, Associate Professor, Carleton University