As a self-proclaimed history nerd, I enjoy reading books that have an historical element, and historical fiction has always been my favorite book genre.
My favorite authors of this genre to date has to be Brock and Bodie Thoene. They have written dozens of gripping books over more than a few series, including settings in 1930s Germany, 1940s Israel, and the 1st Century AD. The Thoene’s most recent series, The Jerusalem Chronicles, takes a creative stab at the life of Jesus, and His followers and ministry. The first book in this series, When Jesus Wept (Jerusalem Chronicles, The), focuses on the life of Lazarus.
The thing I like most about the Thoene’s writing is also the most aggravating at times. They bring so much detail and character development to their stories, that I can bank on the first 50 pages being really slow. Luckily, once I’ve gotten past the background information and character development, the rest of the book flies by and I can’t seem to put it down.
When Jesus Wept brings the story of Lazarus to life, and through a fictional account of Lazarus’s background, allows you to feel connected to him through his journey as a vineyard owner to being the center of one of Jesus’s most famous miracles–raising him from the dead. One of my favorite parts of the book was how the Thoene’s used vineyard allegories and comparisons when describing Jesus’s miracles and mission. The book was very interesting, and I like how they brought characters and incidents in from some of their previous books so it felt very pulled together.
Jesus Wept was different from some of the other Thoene books in terms of action. Their series that are set in the early state of Israel (Palestine in 1947-1948), and Germany and Austria in the 1930s are filled with action, tense scenarios, and adventure. Jesus Wept is more dialogue and character building for what I’m assuming will be the rest of the series. It did a good job portraying Jesus as human while still presenting Him as the fullness of God, and I enjoyed how they described Jesus’s miracle of the Water into Wine at the wedding, using some of the background information on vineyards and wine making the Thoene’s had presented in the early pages when introducing us to Lazarus.
In summary, I enjoyed this book, but I wouldn’t say this was my favorite series thus far. I would have liked to have seen more action, and there were obviously some creative liberties taken in describing how they imagined Jesus and His followers.
**I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All reviews and opinions are my own.