OXFORD author Philip Pullman said today he was looking forward to giving a talk about his controversial new book about Jesus.

“I’m not nervous – I shall have the most comfortable seat in the house,” said Mr Pullman, 63, who will speak about The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ at the Sheldonian Theatre, in Broad Street, at noon tomorrow as part of the Oxford Literary Festival.

Leslee Holderness, a spokesman for the festival, said tickets for Mr Pullman’s talk were “selling well”.

It was suggested earlier this week that security for the event could be stepped up, after Mr Pullman received a number of letters suggesting he would “burn in hell” for writing his latest book, which is thought to question that Jesus is the son of God.

Ms Holderness declined to discuss security arrangements, but added: “It’s going to be a very successful and fascinating talk and Mr Pullman is really looking forward to it.”

Mr Pullman added that he had enjoyed a very busy week at the festival at Christ Church, with five speaking engagements.

He said: “It has been one of my best festivals but I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to go and listen to other speakers, which is a great shame.”

The His Dark Materials author added that he hoped his new book would get people re-reading the Bible.

He said: “It would be nice if my book got people looking at the Gospels and reading the stories they half knew – I think they would be surprised.”