The Godless Gospel | Julian Baggini | Granta

  • Published: 08/10/2020
  • ISBN: 9781783782314
  • Granta Books
  • 304 pages

The Godless Gospel

Julian Baggini

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.

Unlike many philosophical atheists, Julian Baggini is prepared to give close and sensitive attention to the Christian Gospels, challenging us to reflect on how far their luminous moral riches can be salvaged within a secularist framework

John Cottingham, Professor Emeritus, University of Reading and Professor of Philosophy of Religion University of Roehampton

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

The Godless Gospel is simply stunning. Once again, Baggini shows that philosophical writing can be nuanced, erudite, and brilliantly accessible at the same time. In our uneasy age we need philosophers who engage vitally with audiences yearning for meaningful debate: Baggini is leading the vanguard

Joanna Kavenna

The Author

JULIAN BAGGINI‘s books include the Sunday Times bestselling How the World Thinks; How to Think Like a Philosopher; The Virtues of the Table; and the bestselling The Pig That Wants to be Eaten, all published by Granta Books. He is the Academic Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and is a member of the Food Ethics Council. He has written for the Guardian, the TLS, the Financial Times and Prospect, among others, and for magazines, academic journals and think tanks. His website is

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