Latest Issue

William Blake: Prophet of Hell

Why does the great Romantic poet appeal to so many atheists?

By Jason Whittaker  

Satan Smiting Job with Sore Boils by William Blake. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

In his 2010 novel The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman recounts the famous dark night of the soul in Gethsemane, during which Jesus concludes: “You’ve gone away, haven’t you, you’ve abandoned us.”

Drawing the distinction between a thoroughly humanist Jesus and his scheming doppelganger, Christ, this is not simply a moment of profound doubt before spiritual illumination, but the moment when the religious game is up. For Pullman, Jesus’ final words on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”, are not a rhetorical flourish but the moment that, dying, he…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect