I've always wondered (dare I admit this in writing?) which parts of the Gospel are absolutely true, and which parts might have been affected by the author's perspective or the subsequent years of translation. The story, it would seem, is generally correct, and although the expression "the devil's in the details" seems inappropriate in this case...well, you know.
I did know going in that Philip Pullman is an agnostic, and that he seems to have taken special umbrage toward the Catholic Church. I also knew that he is a masterful storyteller--arguably among the best of our generation. I read the book with the expectation that I would not agree, coupled with the belief that ignorance is not really bliss--it's just ignorance.
All that being said, the book did not offend me because it simply did not ring true. While parts of it were thought-provoking, the premise--that Mary gave birth to twins, one named Jesus and the other Christ--just struck me as fantastic to the point of being silly. Certainly history does not get everything right, but that would be an oversight more remarkable than even a skeptic can imagine. Well, with the obvious exception of Pullman himself, that is.