Subtitled "The Gospel
According to Gore Vidal", this is a novel by, you guessed it, Gore Vidal
This clever satire is quite blasphemous (at least, probably, in the eyes of devout Christians). It deals with a dizzying cloud of ideas concerning the history of the Church, the Bible, time travel, intertextuality, the mass media, and even computer hackers.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Timothy in 96 A.D., later to become Saint Timothy. He is visited by various strangers from the future, who explain, gradually, what is going on. Time travel has been (will be) invented in the future, and one of the first things people decide to do with it is send news teams with cameras back to famous historical events to do live TV specials. The visiting strangers want to do a program called Live from Golgotha, which will televise the Crucifixion of Jesus, and they want Timothy to be the anchor man.
It turns out that another thing that's happening is that a hacker from the future is somehow erasing history. He's placed a virus in "the tapes", which is deleting or scrambling various things, like the Gospels. So Timothy's other job is to write the Gospel of Timothy, because for some reason he is immune to the virus. The only problem is, he was born years after the Crucifixion!
The book is full of strange time and memory paradoxes as Timothy strains to remember his past, and the past of the early Christian Church, as told to him years ago by his mentor and lover, Saint Paul. Paul, known simply as "Saint", was the original smooth-talking evangelist, and also really fond of young cute boys, of which Timothy was one. As Timothy thinks back on his early days traveling, preaching, and partying with Saint, he somehow changes his own past and relives it as well. When they get to Rome he finds the disciple Mark so he can copy Mark's Gospel, before it gets erased by the hacker. He has lots of other strange adventures and he even gets to watch TV too, after Chet Claypoole, an executive at NBC, brings him a Sony model from the future.
In the end (warning, plot spoiler!), it turns out that the hacker is really Jesus, who tricked the Romans and switched places with Judas so that he could escape into the future and become a computer analyst named Marvin instead of getting crucified. Jesus is actually a Zionist fanatic bent on bringing about Judgment Day with nuclear weapons. Here's a quote at the point where Timothy figures all this out:
Jesus aka Marvin Wasserstein is a raving maniac and I can see how his activity must have given poor Pontius Pilate the shivers, not to mention the Temple personnel, dedicated as they were to high interest rates and low inflation.
Timothy decides that Saint Paul's vision of Christianity (religion as salvation for all mankind, rather than just for Jews
) is better than Jesus's, and in the end he saves the day and stops Jesus from destroying the world.
Confused? I don't blame you. I can't really fully explain here all the complicated intrigue and plot twists. You'll just have to read the book. I highly recommend it.