Pullman, Music and Jesus
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Philip Pullman was on Radio 4's arts programme yesterday, Front Row, to discuss Bach with the conductor Jophn Eliot Gardiner; with their musings on the relationship between music and literature goiing into a great deal of intellectual depth. Towards the end of the segment, Pullman seemed to confirm that he's thinking of writing a book about Jesus, which you can read (slightly) more about here. Alternatively, you can skip to about 16:30 on the listen again playback to hear that particular part.

Mark Lawson (Presenter): You appear, from what I hear, to be writing a book about Jesus? Is that right?

Pullman: I’m very interested in the Jesus figure and the Jesus myth. That the man who was a sort of itinerant Rabii in the palace [?] of that time, who was executed for political reasons, and who subsequently became, something utterly different. He probably didn’t even contemplate himself. The creation of a new figure who was to be worshipped. It’s an extraordinary transformation, a very very strange thing came over the early Christians, as we now call them. It was probably John or it was probably Paul. It was probably a combination of the two of them. It was that slew of intense, passionate, strange feelings, weird little cults, springing in to existence and then fading out again. Some of them lasting longer than others. It’s pure chance really that it was Christianity that survived and not Mytheryism [sp?], or something else. But it did, and we’re not living with two thousand years of the consequences.

ML: And this book would be non-fiction?

PP: (pause) …I don’t know.

ML: But you’re going to write about it in some way?

PP: I don’t know.

Thanks to Jamie for typing that up for us.

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15 Responses to Pullman, Music and Jesus

  1. The Bard says:

    Wow, talking about Bach, my favourite classical composer. Pullman seems intent on destroying Abrahmic religions.

  2. Angelina says:

    Interesting… Also, the spelling of that big M word is Mithraism. You can check out the similarities between Jesus & Mithras by going to atheists.org, then click on Christianity and then How Jesus got a life. Most of the Mithraism info closer to the middle.

  3. Will says:

    Oh, the Oriental god many Roman soliders ended up favouring? I see, couldn't hear it properly. There's a great big list of virgin births here for that matter:


    Got to love how Skywalker is there.

  4. Angelina says:

    Thanks for the link Kinders 🙂 I usually can\'t get them to work so I didn\'t even try.

  5. Kyrie says:

    The relationship between music and literature – LOL. I don\'t know about Bach, but I\'m listening to Tiesto right now (as I write this). So ya, I\'m sure there is one. For those who don\'t know about DJ Tiesto, he\'s the world\'s number one DJ/trance composer, and he\'s from Holland, same as one of my best friends (the one who actually introduced me to Tiesto because of my interest in trance). As for Bach himself, I\'ve always had a taste for great classical music. One thing I firmly believe in is the power of music/sound to influence human beings.

  6. Kyrie says:

    Will: Wikipedia is so cool isn’t it? \"The online resource Wikipedia is about as accurate on science as the Encyclopedia Britannica, a study shows.\" – BBC.com (my homepage). What’s even better is that the BTTS encyclopedia is built on the same concept and run by the same software as Wiki. Too cool. 🙂

  7. Will says:

    It is great everyone being able to edit it together. Means it can be much greater than staff here could do on their own. One of my History tutors keeps recommending us to look at Wikipedia for quick overviews of topics, but of course you could never cite it.

    You might be listening to music as you write, but Pullman said he can't bear it! Evidently gets in the way of the old creative juices. Perhaps they're so similar (music and literature) they interfere with each other?

  8. Kyrie says:

    An interesting question, to which I\'m afraid I have no easy answer. In my mind there are arguments to support what Pullman said and reasons to contest it, with too many variables in between. I do know, however, that a composer would not listen to other music while composing his own, perhaps the same holds true for the writer? A question for a question, yet this is the first time I post on BTTS without music in the background.

  9. Kinders says:

    It's about rhythm. It's very difficult to write prose, where the rhythm of the sentence is so significant, when there's some other rhythm after your attention in the background. It's like trying to hum a song you know while a different tune is playing on the radio.

  10. Alewyn says:

    Also, if it's music woth words and you know it, the words just scream out at you; you HAVE to sing along instead of actually writing.

  11. Kyrie says:

    Easy answers, Kinders and Alewyn, but I would have to agree – just to be on the safe side. One thing for certain, it\'s easier to edit without any music on. with – not woth. 🙂

  12. Kinders says:

    Easy answers?

  13. Alewyn says:

    Woth…oops. And yeah, I know, mine was easy.

  14. Daniel says:

    pp has gone mad, all of the global warming has gone to his head does he want to destroy his career and lose the respect of his fans.
    :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: :crying: :angry: