We have four gospels that the Church tells us are authentic records of the doings and sayings of Christ. Other gospels exist (such as the ones that I suspect Pullman bases his book on) but the Church has always ruled them out as inauthentic and misleading.
One of the authentic gospels is that written by the saint we celebrate on Sunday, Mark.
Mark’s gospel is the plainest of the four. He is no great stylist, and the language he uses is stark and simple. He is also not flattering to the apostles who are depicted as slow on the uptake and slow to believe. The core of Mark’s message is the same as the other gospel writers however. Jesus is the one sent by God, who was crucified and is now risen from the dead. Through him we are saved.
What is startling when we read all the gospels together is not that they are different in style and tell the story in different ways but rather the story they tell. They are convinced, as Mark states in his opening lines, that here is good news.
Our task is to put that good news on the page into practice in our lives. The world has grown tired and cynical about preachers and teachers but the people of our generation will be convinced when they see us living out the good news in our lives.