Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anne Rice's "Christ The Lord" Series

I have often wondered what life might have been like for Jesus when he was child, or what events he was waiting for before beginning his ministry. Anne Rice gives us one scenario in her "Christ The Lord" series.

Rice, who is most famous for her "Vampire Chronicles" books (including "Interview With The Vampire," which was made in to a movie in the early 1990s), grew up in the Catholic church but eventually strayed from it and became an atheist. She returned to her faith in 1998 and consecrated her work entirely to Christ in 2002. The results so far include "Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt" and "Christ The Lord: The Road to Cana." (She has also published "Angel Time," which I hope to read later.) She uses a mix of both real and fictional characters in her books to connect the different events mentioned in the Bible.

"Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt" is a very enjoyable read and is written from the point of view of a 7-year-old Jesus. We follow him, his mother Mary and foster father Joseph as they (along with a large extended family) make their way back to Nazareth. Jesus doesn't know that he is the begotten son of God, but he notices things happen when he prays. He begins to ask questions, but his family doesn't think he's ready to know the full story of his birth. By the end of the book, Jesus knows all about how his mother was visited by an angel, how shepherds and wise men visited him after his birth and how King Herod in a rage ordered all children under two killed after receiving word that a king had been born.

I was uncomfortable with the thought of Jesus not knowing his divine nature as a child, but this didn't prevent me from enjoying the book immensely. I especially enjoyed the amount of research Rice did about the time period to describe in her book what life might have been like for Jews 2,000 years ago.

I would love to provide more details about how she presents these events and how she describes a child Jesus when he learns of the whole story, but words can't do it justice. All I can say is that I was moved.

"Christ The Lord: The Road to Cana" didn't move me as much as the first book, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Jesus is now 30 and doing a lot of carpentry work with his extended family. (Note to fellow Catholics: Rice stays true to Catholic belief in Mary's perpetual virginity and describes James as the son of Joseph by a wife who died before Joseph's betrothal to Mary.)

A big portion of the book is a fictional account of the events that lead to the wedding at Cana (I don't want to give away what happens). Rice does an excellent job again of drawing from historical research about that time to create one possible scenario. My favorite part, however, is when Jesus and his extended family make their way to the Jordan River to meet John the Baptist after many years apart (Jesus and John first meet face-to-face in Rice's first book). The scene gave me goosebumps as she describes Jesus getting ready for his ministry to begin.

His temptation by the devil in the desert is also a great scene, and one I plan to read again (along with the Bible) during Lent.

The book ends with the wedding at Cana (the final scene) when Jesus changes water in to wine at the request of his mother, and those who love him realize things will never be the same from that moment.

I think I read somewhere that Rice may not continue on with the series because the Gospels, themselves, are written so well. But if she does continue on, you bet I'll read the books.

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Momma Roar said...

Awesome! I can just tell how much you've enjoyed these!

Just Mom said...

I re-read the review (what a concept), and I don't think I made it clear enough that both books are excellent.

The first one moved me more perhaps because I have an almost-7-year-old myself.

Laura said...

I read the first one and loved it. Now I'm looking forward to reading the second one!

I saw Honey for a Child's Heart on your sidebar -- love that book. She has written one for teens, too.

Come on over and visit me for some mom inspiration and encouragement!