What does James Frey believe?

James Frey photographed by Carlo Van de Roer

I believe the first two volumes of the Holy Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, are books that mix fact, fiction and truth, mythology and reality, life as it actually is and life as wish it was. I believe the narrators of the books are unreliable, and that the narrators of the Gospels of Christ are unreliable. I believe the first two volumes of the Bible were written by people like me, storytellers, who wanted to create some piece of work that made sense of the world they lived in, and created a framework for how to exist in it. I believe that they should never be considered pure fact or literal truth, but are works of art. And just as any great of art does, they should influence our lives, and change them, and make them better, but should not rule them.

The idea for the Final Testament of the Holy Bible came to me in 1994, while I was working as a stockboy at a clothing store in Chicago. The manager of the store called me writer boy, and used to ask me what I was working on, and what I wanted to do.. At the time I was reading the Tao te Ching almost daily. One afternoon, the manager asked me if I could write anything what would it be, and inspired by the Tao, I said the Great Book of Life. He laughed at, and snapped his fingers at me, and said it’s already been done, writer boy, and it’s called the Bible. I smiled and thought to myself, yes, you’re right. About five seconds later I thought, why not do it again, the Old and New exist, write the Final. The idea never left me. In 2009, I started putting the words down.

The book is an attempt to tell the story of what it might be like if the Messiah, or Christ Returned, was actually alive and living in New York in the 21st Century. What would that person be like, what would that person believe in, how would that person live, how would we know that this person was divine? In writing the book, I consulted with rabbi’s Catholic priests, Evangelical pastors, neurosurgeons, trauma surgeons, lawyers, the police, mental health experts. My goal was not to retell the story of Christ. That has been done, and done well. My goal was to create a new mythology. One that is relevant in a world with nuclear weapons, advanced physics, the internet, genetic testing and manipulation, one where we know homosexuality is not a decision. My goal was to create a mythology, to tell a story, to make a work of art, that made sense in a world where we know things that people, and writers, 2000 years ago could never have know or imagined. Whether I was able to do it or not will be determined by readers, and by time, and by history.

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