Monday, March 14, 2011

James Frey's Final Testament of the Holy Bible

There really isn't anything that new or innovative about this, but I thought it would be worth mentioning. Lots of authors/artists/singers/movie makers think they're being really edgy when they try and picture Jesus with a decreased set of personal standards. James Frey has a new book coming out on Good Friday which is a supposed third and final testament for the Bible.

He's tried to imagine Jesus living today in New York, going by the name Ben Jones. Frey's Jesus lives with a prostitute, performs gay marriages (he even messes around with guys some himself), smokes pot, and is an alcoholic. Though Jesus is radically different, Judas is the "same as he was two thousand years ago", a "selfish man who thinks of himself before the good of humanity, who values money more than love."

Frey is known for his controversial, heavily embellished personal memoirs called Million Little Pieces, for which he ended up taking a lot of flack. He published them as true and accurate, but as people began fact-checking, other than the fact that Frey was actually a criminal and drug addict, not much else can be verified. Oprah was particularly displeased with him.

I bring this up to say/observe:

1. Many of my readers are Christians, and I think it's prudent of us to be aware of cultural trends on the front end when we can. This book may not make too much of a splash, but if it does, let's be aware of it.

2. I am always amazed how that when people try to re-imagine Jesus, he ends up looking exactly like them. This is certainly true of the Jesus Seminar. They have even published their own version of the Gospels with color coded texts. The colors indicate the level of certainty that the words present are actually the words of Jesus, or are historically reliable. The amazing thing is, if you only read the passages that they have voted--yes actually voted--are truly attributable to Jesus, he only teaches exactly the things that they happen to think and believe. We all wrestle with the aspects of Jesus and his teaching that call us into obedience to him, and rather than submit, it's more convenient to trim Jesus down to fit our comfort levels.

3. Frey's Jesus is no better than his Judas. The obtuse irony here actually made me chuckle to myself. Judas is a "selfish man" who thinks of himself and loves money, but Jesus here is a selfish man who thinks of himself and loves sexual indulgence and alcohol. Not much of a point to following this messiah...he's no better than we are, and certainly in no place to instruct people morally.

4. I wonder if Frey's next book will be the sequel to the Quran. Perhaps he can call it "The Great Satan Strikes Back," or , "Mohammed Rides Again." Seriously, though, I'm so bored with people who think they are being edgy by attacking or mocking Christianity. They only do it because Christians won't do anything to endanger their health. I'd like to see someone with the guts to try this approach to interpreting Mohammed's life in a modern setting, especially the part about his six-year-old worries, he waited until she was at least 9 to consummate it. Of course, in all honesty, I think that such a creation would be a thoroughly unproductive thing. I'm just noting the huge discrepancy about the way in which Christianity gets mocked and slandered without fear of retribution, as compared to Islam.


  1. Just getting around to reading this, but you're right. I'm done with helping antagonists get more attention (e.g. this Frey character, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchins, et. al.). They're provocateurs who make money off of riling up people who, let's be honest, appear to enjoy being riled up from time to time.

    On your last point, it makes me chuckle but reminds me of something I think it was F. LaGard Smith who said. In a conversation with a Muslim friend who was inquisitive about why we let unbelievers take a hatchet to our holy Scriptures the way they do. He said something like, "If anyone did that to us, we'd just behead them."

  2. Thanks, III. I do get tired of the argument that always shows up of "What if they tried that on a Muslim?" But it's makes a difference! I'm trying not to get caught up so much in the shock statements happening in our culture. Thanks for reading and for weighing in.

  3. it's a terrible book - please don't bother reading it. the idea of jesus being imagined in one's own image is good, however, when used in hemingway's old mand and the sea.