Not the final testament of the holy Bible

2011-09-28 00:00

THERE’S an old joke about a man who claims he’s neither racist nor prejudiced: he just hates ­everybody equally. That principle could be applied to this book: it just offends everyone equally, ­especially fervent Jews and Christians.

The concept is initially intriguing, a common topic of preaching and discussion: what would the Messiah returning for the Second Coming be like? A Jew born in Queens, New York City, perhaps? The book’s main character, Ben ­Zion Avrohom, fulfils several ­criteria that Jews expect of the Messiah, and events in his life ­parallel some of those in Jesus Christ’s. He criticises organised religion, as Jesus did, and is ­persecuted for his views, as Jesus was, and wants to spread the love of God as Jesus did.

However, his style of love isn’t what either Jews or Christians would expect: Frey’s Messiah ­figure is vigorously and frequently promiscuous with people of both genders. He seems to “heal” and “love” people by having sex with them, and this extends to orgiastic love-ins with multiple partners at once.

Frey’s purported autobiography, A Million Little Pieces, was exposed as a fabrication in a tearful confession on the Oprah Winfrey Show. After that, where do you go with what was a lucrative writing career?

Frey’s answer is simple: You write provocative — and for some, blasphemous — twaddle that’s sure to keep readers of dubious taste happy, and the publisher’s bank balance healthy.

If you can get over the offensive content and the fact that this is ­little more than a money-making con, it has some worthwhile ­elements. The author captures well the diverse voices of ­characters who encounter Ben, and it’s also a thriller of sorts. The suspense builds satisfyingly and the tension is effectively sustained.

However, I would suggest that this book isn’t worth investing either the cover price or the time required to read it.

BOOK REVIEW

The Final Testament of the Holy Bible

James Frey

John Murray

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