Apparently it was the Archbishop of Canterbury who challenged Philip Pullman, one of the best-known atheist writers, to rewrite the New Testament from a humanist perspective. Pullman's (inevitably controversial) response was to recast Jesus and Christ as two separate people, not-quite-identical twins with the former as the charismatic preacher, the latter secretly chronicling what happens. Urged on by a mysterious stranger, Christ is encouraged to make little changes to the story, throwing in the odd miracle and sanitising some of the more controversial opinions in order to make the teaching live longer and give rise to a powerful church. (As ever it's not faith per se Pullman is having a go at, it's organised religion.) The title The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ suggests a more clear-cut polarity between the brothers than we actually find - at times the distant figure of Jesus is hard to empathise with, and his teachings on family in particular are harsh: He all-but disowns his parents and brother, "honour thy father and thy mother" this ain't. Given the predictably outraged response from some Christians this is actually a pretty mild response rather than a harsh satire, as some people have said it's Life of Brian without the jokes. Considering the fuss I found it disappointingly slight overall, it does read like an academic exercise rather than a heartfelt work. And I did find it a bit ironic, given that one of the ways Christ doctors the gospels is to rewrite earlier bits to suggest Jesus prophesied what happened next, that what attacks Pullman makes on organised religion rely on characters dropping hints about some of the worst things the Church would do over the next couple of millennia.