Do Jesus’s teachings add up to a coherent moral system, still relevant today?
Even if we don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God, we tend to think he was a great moral teacher. But was he? And how closely do idealised values such as our love of the family, helping the needy, and the importance of kindness, match Jesus’s original tenets?
Julian Baggini challenges our assumptions about Christian values – and about Jesus – by focusing on Jesus’s teachings in the Gospels, stripping away the religious elements such as the accounts of miracles or the resurrection of Christ. Reading closely this new ‘godless’ Gospel, included as an appendix, Baggini asks how we should understand Jesus’s attitude to the renunciation of the self, to politics, or to sexuality, as expressed in Jesus’s often elusive words.
An atheist from a Catholic background, Baggini introduces us to a more radical Jesus than popular culture depicts. And as he journeys deeper into Jesus’s worldview, and grapples with Jesus’s sometimes contradictory messages, against his scepticism he finds that Jesus’s words amount to a purposeful and powerful philosophy, which has much to teach us today.
‘A superbly lucid and emotionally involving account of the New Testament story, full of thought-provoking insights for atheists, agnostics and believers alike’
– Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Cafe