From The Washington Post:
Fear not, for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy: Philip Pullman's novel about Jesus is not quite as shrill as his public statements on religion would suggest. Choosing a vocal atheist and best-selling British fantasy writer to retell the story of the Gospels was clearly an answer to some publicist's prayer, but for all its satanic fanfare and heretical rejiggering, “The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ” is — God forbid — kind of inspiring. It even manages to convey a message that's always been central to Christian thought.
So what does Pullman do with the greatest story ever told? Essentially, he condenses the four Gospels, following the basic outline they provide of Jesus's life. Indeed, some of the text here — such as his simple, beautifully rendered Sermon on the Mount — will strike Christians as very familiar. Again and again, he displays a marvelous sense of the elemental power of Jesus's instructions and parables. Even when he transforms the canonical stories to match his atheist perspective, he emphasizes the basic Christian theme of universal love.