Source: Anita Vachharajani from

In 1995, a year before Harry Potter flew in on his broom, a fantasy novel by Philip Pullman made a quiet yet significant entry. Northern Lights, the first part of the His Dark Materials trilogy, tells the story of two children who meet across parallel universes and end up subverting the Church’s authority in a breathlessly exciting journey across seas, skies and worlds. Darker and less gimmicky than JK Rowling’s Potter story, the Trilogy sold 15 million copies, earned critical acclaim,and, inevitably, attracted moral censure. This month, as his latest novel, a retelling of the life of Jesus, titled, The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ hit bookstores in India, Pullman shares with DNA the secrets of his craft. Excerpts:

In your new novel, would it be correct to see Jesus as the more truly human, the more worshipful brother, while Christ has a larger vision for an organised religion?
In one way, the two brothers represent two of the types of authority described by the sociologist Max Weber. Jesus is the embodiment of charismatic leadership, which is based on the domination of the leader by means of miracles, magical powers, prophecy, and so on. Christ is the embodiment of a later sort of leadership: not possessing any sort of charismatic gifts himself, he envisages a church based on the authority of tradition. The progression from one to the other is typical of the way many organisations develop.


I have always been fascinated with religion; myths, legends, fables, parables – what makes people tick – and why people believe what they believe, or what they don’t. But, of course, that isn’t for everyone – and I agree, if you don’t like the subject matter, don’t read the book. How do you feel about this subject? Are you a Philip Pullman fan?

Join us in the forum to discuss!