Encounter the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth in this culmination of the Jerusalem Chronicles.
How could Jesus—who preached righteousness before God, and love and mercy toward neighbors—be so hated and pursued? To the Temple officials, he was a threat to the livelihood and authority of the priesthood. To Herod Antipas, he was a threat to his ambition to be the King of the Jews. And to the Roman overlords, he was seen as a dangerous threat; a man who commanded an army of the common people. He could heal wounds, offer miraculous provisions, and even raise from the dead. If Jesus had accepted popular acclaim and become an earthly king, he would have been unstoppable.
Jesus’s last days are explored through three people who interacted with him: Governor Pilate, for whom Judea will either make or break his career; Pilate’s wife, Claudia, desperately seeking aid for her much loved, crippled son; and Centurion Marcus Longinus, caught in the middle between loyalty to the Empire, love for Claudia, and an ever-increasing belief in Jesus as the Son of God. After encountering Jesus, none of them will ever be the same.
Behold the Man concludes the Jerusalem Chronicles by Bodie and Brock Thoene. Despite being a long time fan of the Thoene’s this series did not meet my expectations. It began well with When Jesus Wept, a dramatic retelling of Christ’s friendship with Lazarus and the miracle in which Lazarus is raised to life. Take This Cup, was a drastic departure from the Thoene’s usual style of writing and I set the book aside — unfinished. When my book club proposed reading Behold the Man in March, nicely coinciding with Easter, I agreed. Prior to our first meeting I wanted to share my thoughts with you.
Historical fiction, particularly biblical fiction, is my all time favorite genre. Admittedly, my standards for biblical fiction are higher than other genres. This is because in the hands of an unbeliever or un-read church goer, these books have the potential to skew their beliefs about biblical events or persons. I found two particular instances in which the authors manipulated scripture. I understand that this is a work of fiction, however this bothered me because the changes had no bearing on the story. Hence, why not hold to the truth? (Matthew 14:1-21 & Mark 4:10)
With this story I felt like I was reading what was happening, but not feeling it — my heart never fully engaged with the characters. From the outset it was clear Pilate and Claudia’s marriage was established for political gain rather than love. This was not uncommon throughout history, however I felt like the Thoenes were pushing their readers to desire Claudia and Marcus to have an affair. Furthermore, I question why Pilate’s harsh treatment of Claudia was continuously thrust into the limelight when so little character development was gained from it. To me, depravity and the ambitions of various men overshadowed the more important message of Christ’s mission and message.
I’ve not given up on the Thoenes, I’ve just determined this series wasn’t written for me. Perhaps it will strike others differently and for that reason I am looking forward to our book club discussion.
**I received this book free as a member of the BookLookBloggers review program. 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.”