Jesus: A Novel

Written by Walter Wangerin Jr.
Review by Michael I. Shoop

Noted author Wangerin (The Book of the Dun Cow, The Book of God, etc.) presents a very readable version of the story of Jesus of Nazareth. Using the four Gospels as his source, he has created a flowing narrative of Christ’s life on earth, including his crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus is portrayed accurately as a divine yet very human personage, as viewed through the eyes of his mother Mary and the disciple called “Beloved.” While Jesus is the novel’s focus, all the supporting characters are here, from Mary and Joseph to John the Baptist, Simon Peter, and Mary Magdalene. All the well-known episodes of Jesus’s life are covered: the childhood Temple visit, the feeding of the multitudes, Jesus’s teaching through the parables, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, etc. Although Wangerin’s writing is thoughtful and intelligent, he makes minimal use of period details, his characterizations lack depth, and at times his language is too modern sounding. Readers looking for something more imaginative will be disappointed, but for those desiring a no-frills retelling of Jesus’s life, this is an excellent choice.