Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Review: Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice

This novel opens on the life of Jesus at seven years old. Perhaps because the story deals the most uneventful part of Jesus’ life, it drags a bit. However, Rice expertly develops Jesus’ immediate and extended family. His uncle Cleopas stands out as an important mentor for Jesus. In fact, Rice puts several of Jesus’ later lessons in the mouth of Cleopas first. Cleopas comments on the greed of money changers and he also expresses indifference toward Caesar’s rule (not threatened by nor devoted towards Roman rule). Jesus’ brother James is also nicely developed in his envy toward his brother being the Savior. James’ repentance and sacrifice for forgiveness provides a powerful window on the Jewish traditions of the temple. Rice attempts to generate suspense through the novel by having Jesus seek after the details of his birth. His family, in their attempts to protect him, does not want to discuss supernatural aspects of his birth, nor the tragic massacre that followed. Since most Christian readers will already know the Christmas story, the slow reveal doesn’t create the kind of tension it might for those who have previously avoided the Christian faith. Overall, I found the book quite interesting to skim quickly, but wasn’t as sucked into each passage as I would have liked. The last 25 -30 pages were emotionally riveting, so I do recommend slowing down and savoring at that point.

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