The story was written in first person through the eyes of non-believers Clavius, a Roman Tribune and Rachel, widower and intimate friend of Clavius. The thing that jumped out to me about the book cover was the author Angela Hunt and the fact that this was a novelization of a movie that would be out in theaters February 2016. I've read several books by this author. I love the way she weaves biblical events into a heart-felt, interesting, suspenseful read. I instantly cared about the characters. She writes in a way that cause me to look up scripture references and see things for myself.
This novel takes a look at the events surrounding Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. I like the fact the author is always up-front with readers about what is "fact" and what is "fiction" in her biblical stories. I like knowing where she had to fudge the facts to make the story flow. I usually read that first so I'll be prepared for the journey ahead.
This is a unique view of a very familiar story. Pilate sends for Tribune Clavius to make sure three people crucified that day were dead before sunset to be sensitive to the Jewish Sabbath. When Clavius arrives Jesus is already dead, it doesn't take long for the others to follow. A few days later the Tribune is summoned again by Pilate to investigate the disappearance of Yeshua's body. The followers were claiming he was alive. Pilate wanted his body to shut down the rumors. The Tribune assured Pilate he would do what it took to find the Nazarene. Readers are brought into the investigating room as Clavius interviews people who say he's alive and others to dig for information about the disciples. Surely Yeshua would be with them.
In the second chapter readers are introduced to Rachel who makes and sells bread at the market. She's a Jew who isn't happy with herself, "I was such a hypocrite. Why did I bother to keep the traditions of my people? Why did I obey the law when my heart had so thoroughly let me astray?" and into the arms of Roman soldier, Tribune Clavius.
Clavius was the one to deliver the news of her husband's death. He brought bread from her daily and they both had seen Yeshua. Rachel saw him alive on the street when he dropped his cross. Clavius saw him dead on the cross. It was a moment they'd never forget. When news of the empty tomb is confirmed their worlds are jolted.
The Tribune writes his twin sister about what he's learned about Yeshua, "...Today I executed a man who supposedly worked miracles...according to the rumors the messiah, a Nazarene, fed thousands from a few loaves and fish. He healed lame men, opened the eyes of the blind, and raised a dead man who had been dead four days in the tomb..Can you imagine what a military commander this messiah would make? His army would not need to carry food or medical supplies. Any man who died by the sword would be raised by the word, and forward they would march, conquering all as they went."
Seeing this story through the eyes of a Roman soldier and meeting the people he meets from scripture (the disciples and other characters who interacted with Jesus) had me look at the events, people and scripture with fresh eyes. I found the list the author included with scripture references to Yeshua's post resurrection activities helpful. There was seventeen passages listed.(I appreciate the help in taking this aspect of the story deeper)
I'm excited about seeing the movie. I really enjoyed the fact that the novel alternated view points; some chapters through Clavius eyes, and others told from Rachel a Jewish woman trying to find her way after her encounter with Yeshua. Nothing was the same.
I'm even more interested in seeing the movie and how it will differ from the book because of what the author shares in author notes. "The character of Rachel, who adds so much to the story (I agree) is a creation of Paul Aiello, the screen writer, but her role had to be cut from the movie due to time constraints. I'm happy that she lives within these pages and adds an additional point of view!"
I agree she added a lot in seeing events through a Jewish female's point of view. I learned much of their culture. I think this would make a good book club pick and book club event. It would be fun to take your group to the movie after they read the book; then you could discuss the differences between the book and the movie at your next meeting. It would be fun to discuss how closely they stuck to the book and what changes you liked and didn't.
This is also just a fun read to get your heart and mind reader for the Easter season.
Disclosure of Material Connection: #AD Bethany House
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"
Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
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