The Gospel According to British-Jewish Author Naomi Alderman

Talented Young Novelist Riffs On the New Testament

Preaching To The Choir: Naomi Alderman’s novel  focuses on the memories of four people who knew a dead preacher/rabbi/rebel named Yehoshua.
Naomi Alderman
Preaching To The Choir: Naomi Alderman’s novel focuses on the memories of four people who knew a dead preacher/rabbi/rebel named Yehoshua.

By Michael Goldfarb

Published April 04, 2013, issue of April 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

For example, a Jewish historian writing about Jews in 19th-century Europe cannot judge the community’s passivity in the face of profound anti-Semitism, and its willingness to make accommodations with its tormentors, with a post-Holocaust sensibility.

The reward for doing this hard work is that the author will have a new understanding of the motivations of people in their day-to-day lives. Then comes the next difficult step: translating your insights into actions and words. To do this, an author will very likely invent a new voice and style for telling the story.

This is precisely the process that Hilary Mantel used in “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies,” her phenomenally successful books about Henry VIII’s fixer-in-chief, Thomas Cromwell.

The British-Jewish novelist Naomi Alderman brings the same method to bear in her exceptional new book, “The Liars’ Gospel.” In it, Alderman takes on what Hollywood christened “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” The result is a deeply researched, empathically imagined, ferociously told exploration of the Jew known as Jesus.

Starting with a prologue set in the inner courtyard of the Temple as Pompey’s army batters down Jerusalem’s walls in 63 BCE, she brings to life the world of a conquered Judea, perpetually in rebellion against Roman masters.

”The Liars’ Gospel” focuses on the memories of four people who knew a dead preacher/rabbi/rebel named Yehoshua. They are his mother, Miryam; one of his followers, Iehuda from Qeriot; the high priest Caiaphas, and a zealot leader, Bar Avo, chosen to live when Yehoshua is condemned to crucifixion.

Each of these character’s stories is familiar from the New Testament, but each is inventively reimagined.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.