For Easter, I wanted to read a Biblical Fiction series set in the New Testament. I wanted something that would connect me to the time period Jesus lived in and maybe even offer new understanding in the way fiction does best. I chose The Jerusalem Chronicles by Bodie and Brock Thoene and what can I say? I wasn’t disappointed! These books have changed the way I read the Gospels. The books were simply amazing!
The first book in the series is When Jesus Wept. While the story is told through the eyes of David ben Lazarus (aka Lazarus), it will walk you through the earthly ministry of Jesus and explore what it could have possibly been like to be a friend of Jesus.
First off, I loved the amount of Scripture used! On almost every page, passages of Scriptures were quoted directly from the Bible. In a way, this surprised me, but on the other hand, it felt completely natural. (Obviously, if Jesus is going to be a person in your book, why not quote what He said?) This was a refreshing addition to a story where you expected a lot of fictional elements and imagination to be used.
Another aspect of the novel that amazed me was how the authors wove the Scripture in with the fiction. The first scene that hit home for me was when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery before Jesus and He said, “You without sin, cast the first stone.” In the Bible, we are not told who the woman was, but here, the authors portray the woman to be Mary, Lazarus’s sister. I felt the scene was a turning point for Lazarus. In the book, Lazarus, who had disowned his sister because of her sin, was there to witness the scene. When he saw Mary encounter Jesus, something inside him changed and he began his journey to forgiveness and compassion for Mary. The whole novel was filled with stories we’ve heard over and over again, but, told with characters we recognize from the Bible. Of course, whether or not those people were really the ones who participated in such events didn’t take away from the story. After all, we know that part of the story was fictionalized! What made me embrace the writing style was that it made me think about these stories in a different way and feel new emotions toward familiar Scriptures.
Finally, we can’t go over a novel about Lazarus without talking about his death and resurrection. With the book being written in first person, it was different than what you might expect, but, it was intriguing! I really think the authors did a great job of capturing life after death…I can imagine that writing about something no one knows about firsthand would be a challenge, yet, it was believable and had a “heavenly” feel to it.
Conclusion: I loved this book! Not only did it tell the story of Lazarus, it spanned all three years of Jesus’ ministry. The book began with John baptizing in the Jordan and ended with Jesus being in Jerusalem for Passover right before He was arrested. Of course, you also read the tragic experience of Lazarus’s death and then his resurrection on the fourth day. Throughout the novel, you get a clear representation of what it was like to be a Jew in Israel at that time. (Not easy!) In fact, the book had a very Jewish viewpoint. (We’ll see in books two and three, that each one is written from a different viewpoint). An easy read with a style that really flowed, yet, very inspirational! Highly recommend if you’re interested in Biblical Fiction set in the New Testament era.
Interested in other reviews from this author? Then check out…
Vienna Prelude —> Here
Prague Counterpoint —> Here
Munich Signature —> Here
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