One might imagine that if you combined one of the greatest writers in human history with the most influential piece of literature in human history that the end result would be a book of such herculean perfection that its reader would have to carry around a towel to mop up all the blood that would be pumping freely from said readers eyes. Sadly, not only is that not the case with Tolstoy's Gospel, but the book suffers from an even greater flaw: it's horrendously irritating while, at the same time, ridiculously boring.
Tolstoy had found an incredibly personal form of Christianity near the end of his life when, due to his horror at the relentless self-righteousness and conformity of the Church, he re-interpreted the religion himself, proceeding to live out the rest of his days vehemently criticizing everyone who didn't conform with his incredibly self-righteous interpretation: it's a cheap irony, and a sad, very real, end for one of the literary giants. One of his efforts to educate the populace was this. Removing all the mysticism and miracles from the four gospels, Tolstoy wrote up a short version of Jesus' life, choosing to focus solely on the words of the man himself. What he ended up with reads just like it sounds: a dull exercise in creative writing that only sees continued publication due to it's connection to literary celebrity. None of what makes Tolstoy important is here, if anything, Leo threw out his own style and intelligence along with Christ walking across the water. Beyond the books unrelenting dullness, the constant egomania and inherent criticism of it's writer shine through in every line--Tolstoy so clearly loathes anyone who doesn't agree with him that it's uncomfortable to read about a man like Jesus, who, historically, pretty much loved everybody.
Although the books brevity (and an overly large font) keep The Gospel In Brief from taking up much of even the slowest readers time, it ends up still taking too much. Unless you're writing a paper on Tolstoy, there's no reason to spend a moment in these pages. As an alternative, try sticking your face into the toilet--you're more likely to reach the Lord far quicker.
-Tucker Stone, 2006