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What Not to Read: James Frey’s “Final Testament”

How quirky is it that one of the most notorious literary frauds of recent memory, the guy whose memoir A Million Little Pieces turned out to be not-so-memoirish, should add his name to the giants who have imagined a sex life for Jesus?

James Frey, an apparent apostle of the church of Any Publicity is Good Publicity, now delivers The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, which presents a hero in Ben Zion Avrohom. Ben is an alcoholic. Of course he is. Could we really take him seriously if he weren’t? After a coma, Ben awakens to discover himself endowed with miraculous–dare we say Christ-like–powers. And what does Ben do with these powers? He loves. I mean he loves everybody–and not just in the agape manner.

Isn’t is surprising to find that a contemporary book invokes a contemporary “Jesus” who reflects decidedly contemporary mores? After all, that Jesus was sort of a go-with-the-flow guy in the first century, right? Michael Lindren’s review, perhaps inadvertently, puts the lie to Frey’s pretensions to literary gravitas.

Ben’s contempt for religion takes on the aspect of an energetic if somewhat repetitive polemic. He emphatically rejects any constraints that are based on literalist readings of Scripture, saying that “the Bible is a book. Books are for telling stories. They’re not for denying people the right to live as they choose.”

Yes, that is exactly what Jesus would espouse. He’d tell everybody that they should live as they choose. Good literature should challenge our beliefs, but Frey’s drivel sets out merely to confirm the predilections of his audience, which is not, quite clearly, believers.

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