Father of God

Martin Michael Driessen

With FATHER OF GOD, Martin Michael Driessen has written a truly original book. On the one hand, it is a humorous yet respectful Bible commentary; on the other, it is a gripping novel about fathers and sons. God’s longing for a father and Joseph’s urge to save his son complement each other perfectly. The style is beautiful and warm and convincing. Joseph’s role is moving and Driessen manages to portray God as a believable character, with wishes and desires, disappointment and awkwardness. But in the end, the starring role is for the housekeeper!

God has long since abandoned his fierce and cruel creation to its fate, when one day he discovers his love for mankind. He also works out how he can finally fulfil His desire to have a father of his own, and makes a bold decision: He is going to be born as a human being.

A father treks with his son through the desolate landscape of the Anti-Lebanon mountains. He has kidnapped him to save him from the terrible death that has been foretold. They try to flee across the border of the Roman Empire. They are Joseph and his son Jesus.

‘This book is strewn with humour. But it contains a serious narrative thread in God’s dissatisfaction with his own creation and most of all his longing for a father. The novel contrasts markedly, for example, with J.M. Coetzee’s solemn allegories The Boyhood of Jesus and The Schooldays of Jesus. The hand of the theatrical professional Driessen is apparent in the very effective dialogue. There is great pathos in Joseph’s death, which is followed neither by an apotheosis nor by a terrestrial burial.’ Fonds voor de Letteren: best Dutch voices

‘“In the beginning everything was…” The first sentence of Father of God makes it immediately clear. This book is about God and the Bible, but slightly different from what we are used to. God lives somewhere up there and is busy creating, while his housekeeper scurries around him with a duster. Together they cast an eye over God’s terrarium. “I don’t think this thing with the Celts will work out…” thinks the housekeeper. And of course she is right. However hopeful he is every time, often his creation leads nowhere. He creates, creates and struggles. “Deep into the evening of that day that began so hopeful, God sat hunched over his creation and saw with sorrow what free will could lead to: a saga of passionate family strife, incest and betrayal, of singing heroes who stood on earthen ramparts with bronze swords or set fire to their own palaces with all their guests inside.” It is clear: God, while Almighty, is certainly not Omniscient when it comes to humanity. And he doesn’t understand his creation at all. After yet another disappointment, God falls into a deep sleep, overtired. He sleeps for a long, long time and Bartje the housekeeper is a little worried. A visitor, Moses, arrives and Bartje is impressed by his appearance. She leaves him at God’s lectern and there he reads the chaotic piles of notes God has made for mankind’s sacred books. Full of admiration, he reads the notes on God’s creation. Bartje’s memories, however, are quite different: “He was always good with the pen…” she murmurs.

‘When Moses has left again, God finally awakens from his long sleep. He discovers that Moses has stolen his notes and now understands that he must let go of his creation. He may be creating everything, but he still cannot control everything. But letting go is easier said than done. “Gradually God began to discern murmurs: the voices of a humanity He had abandoned to its fate penetrated Him more and more clearly, and with the same curiosity with which one follows what a former lover is doing with his or her life, God continued to listen.” God decides to go to earth disguised as a shepherd. “Finally, He decided to give them another chance, albeit as an envious and wrathful God who would not tolerate any wrongdoing.”

God’s stay on earth is not a success. After much ado that eventually leads to the destruction of Jericho, he returns upstairs disappointed and sadly reflects that he could have just created a flower garden instead. Totally fed up with humanity, he decides once again not to get involved in anything, but then boredom strikes. He devotes himself to training doves of peace and rereads the Bible. He realises that the concept of the Redeemer he described in it offers opportunities. What if he were to appear as the Messiah himself? A great opportunity to learn to understand man and then he would immediately have the father he so longs for. At this point, the story shifts to earth, to Joseph, who tries to save his son from his fate. Joseph is suffering and the angel Gabriel pays him many visits. This leads to jealousy among the other angels. (The story is very sympathetic to God’s angels, by the way.) “A tear fell on Joseph’s tanned hand, and Gabriel struggled to hide his irritation.” Joseph gets very little support from the angel and can think of only one solution: Jesus must not become the Messiah. He must not stand out in any way and must live unnoticed. For this, he must be hidden from the all-seeing eye of God. He sees only one way out: he flees with Jesus. This does not make Gabriel look good: he fears entering the annals “as the weak therapist who granted Joseph probationary leave.”’ Literaire Nederland

‘Father of God cannot simply be summed up in one adjective: it is as blasphemous as it is biblical, sometimes funny and occasionally devout – God, what a fine book.’ NRC Handelsblad

‘Driessen can write incredibly well.’ Het Parool

‘How can these different elements convince, move, amaze? How can this book work? I don’t know. But work it does.’ De Standaard de Letteren


  • Wereldbibliotheek NL
  • Del Vecchio Italy
  • Gondolat Hungary

Material: finished copies and pdf (208pp)