Thursday, April 09, 2009

Anne Rice's "Christ the Lord"

Anne Rice is best known, at least by me, for "The Vampire Chronicles." But apparently a few years ago, she became a Christian, and wanted to write something about Jesus. The result is "Christ the Lord", a novel that describes the year before Jesus publicly announced his ministry.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It's a pretty easy read (I read it all yesterday in 4 hours of airplane travel). The plot involves Jesus' interaction with his family and kinsmen and the difficulties of being "Yeshua the Sinless", the name they (often derogatorily) call him. The absolute best thing about the book is the portrayal of Jesus' humanity without compromising on the deity. Jesus really struggles with the temptations of life--anger over people's treating each other poorly, desire for marriage and family, responding to untrue accusations, and the like. When the writer of Hebrews talks about Jesus being tempted in every way as a man but still without sin--Rice describes that in a real and understandable way.

I have always wondered what was on Jesus' mind as he grew up--what did he know and when did he know it? When he was 6 or 12 or 20, did he know everything about his calling and nature? If not, how did he learn it? Does having to learn it somehow deny his deity? The book approaches this from the standpoint of "choosing not to know" certain things, which I think is pretty good theology, and the story works well.

On the downside, I thought there were too many characters, none of which is developed as well as they could be. This is especially true as she introduces the first disciples of Jesus. For example, she talks about Jesus' renaming of Simon to Peter, and calling James and John the Sons of Thunder, but it's like he just made it up on the spot and there wasn't any meaning to it. I picture those nicknames being come up with in circumstances where everyone there understands why Jesus calls them that. But she apparently wanted to get them in, so that's all crammed into one short chapter at the end of the book.

Again, overall I really enjoyed it. It's definitely within Roman Catholic theological realms as it deals with Jesus, Mary, and their family situation, but non Catholics shouldn't find anything that makes the book disagreeable on foundational issues.

No comments: