rating: 3 of 5 stars
While this is a fascinating book in terms of the historical details of daily life in the first century, I have to disagree with the review in Publisher's Weekly which states that it "imagines nothing seriously objectionable to even the most devout Christians." That isn't true if one counts Catholics as "devout Christians".
First of all, the book's portrayal of Mary, the Mother of Jesus is problematic for Catholics. It portrays her as joining Jesus' siblings (another problematic interpretation) in doubting Jesus when he begins his mission, only joining the Apostles later.
The other disturbing thing is that Jesus doesn't seem to know he is the Messiah until right before he goes to Jerusalem for the final time. The book seems to go out of its way to portray Jesus as very much "only human". There is no sense that He is the second person of the Blessed Trinity here at all.
I will update this when I get to the end of the book. I'm wondering how or if the Resurrection will be portrayed.
Update: While the post-resurrection portion was decidedly supernatural (as opposed to walking the line between Jesus as a weird-but-good man and something "more") the entire book was an odd marriage of Fundamentalism and Feminism. Mary Magdalene is portrayed throughout the story as equal to (and in some ways a bit above and apart from) the (male) Apostles. Also, the author seems to make a point of having the Mary Magdalene discuss whether or not Peter has primacy over the other Apostles(one can perhaps guess the answer here)and there is a point near the end where it is declared that the Church "has no doctrine."
So, while the book is intriguing, it is in no way in line with historical Christianity as expressed by the Catholic Church.
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