Verdict: As a thoughtful, loving and gentle portrayal of the life of Jesus, though, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO YESHUA'S CAT succeeds. Open-minded readers of all faith perspectives may agree with some of it, disbelieve other parts entirely, and find some debatable, which may in fact be an ideal balance for a theological work.
A little cat, attacked in the wilderness by wild dogs who almost kill her, is rescued by Yeshua ben Yosef, a young man seeking answers from God about the work he feels he is called to do. He heals the cat, and names her Mari, while she in turn names him Ben Adamah, son of Earth. He also gives her the gift of human intelligence – always, of course, maintaining a feline perspective – and communication. The two form a deep and close friendship, with Mari keeping him company through his ministry, and receiving some teaching of her own. She even befriends Mary of Magdala, and shares her grief at the crucifixion and her joy at the resurrection.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO YESHUA’S CAT is a charming look at the story of Jesus from an entirely different perspective. Francisco does a reasonable job of taking on a cat’s personality, and giving her a properly feline view of the world. Yeshua’s biography and teachings manage to walk the rather delicate boundary between more traditional and more modern perspectives – this is not a book either for fundamentalists or for radical revolutionaries. For example, Mary of Magdala is not shown here in her traditional role as a reformed prostitute, but neither is she Yeshua’s wife or the mother of his child. She is simply his disciple and his cherished friend, valued for her mind rather than either her reformed sexuality or her fruitful womb. The author’s view of Yeshua and his teaching, whether or not the reader agrees, is at least supported by rational philosophical and theological argument, and founded in love.
At times the author does either, through rewriting certain incidents or by telling them offstage, soften and diminish the force of some of Yeshua’s more interesting and controversial actions. For example, Yeshua finds the woman condemned for adultery after her stoning, not before, thus taking away his confrontation with her accusers. Nor is Mari, or the reader, present at the scourging of the Temple moneychangers or the crucifixion itself.
As a thoughtful, loving and gentle portrayal of the life of Jesus, though, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO YESHUA’S CAT succeeds. Open-minded readers of all faith perspectives may agree with some of it, disbelieve other parts entirely, and find some debatable, which may in fact be an ideal balance for a theological work.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader