Imagine being a time-traveller who goes back in time to meet Jesus of Nazareth. How would you react? For Karl Glogauer, this is just what happens. But it turns out things aren't what Karl expected. The simple carpenter's son is exactly that - simple. A grinning, salivating imbecile, who can only say his own name with a moronic giggle.
This is one of the funniest books about time travel I have read. It's about disillusionment, finding yourself, trying to work out who you are, and making amends. Karl Glogauer is a man full of social failings. A victim who is mixed up, confused and uncertain. The problem is he hates himself, and can't accept the good things other people see in him.
Before I had heard of this book I had my own theory that Jesus might have been a time traveller from the future, say the 28th century. He would have had all sorts of advanced technology to make it look like he was performing miracles, such as a pair of hover boots to make it look like he was walking on water. Or genetically modifying five loaves and two fishes to feed thousands. His claim to be the son of God would have been the ultimate hoax.
The time traveller in "Behold the Man" is from the 20th century and takes on the role of Jesus rather reluctantly. He utters prophecies that are uncannily accurate (he's read it all in a book), and he "heals" those whose afflictions are purely psychosomatic. All the quotations in the bible are based on Karl's actions. The things Karl does will be interpreted down the centuries, affecting the lives of millions.
This is a wonderfully iconoclastic work, full of mocking wit. I finished reading it the same day I bought it, it's not a very long book. It really makes you think about destiny and what we're all about.