John’s Story: The Last Eyewitness (Book One of the Jesus Chronicles)
This latest novel from the authors of the “Left Behind” series floats an interesting premise: a novel about the writing of a book. If it were any other book than John’s Gospel, that might make for a less inspiring read.
The results are sometimes mixed. Long sections of the book are merely dictation: the Apostle John saying the words that his disciple Polycarp records. There are no reconsiderations of words, no “strike out that portion,” no moments where John pauses to consider a word. One sometimes wishes something like that had happened with some of the dialogue. People in the 1st century, let alone the 21st, didn’t talk like a few of the passages. At times, I found myself enjoying the reprinting of the Gospel more than the moments when John pauses, only for Polycarp to tell him how “great” the book is. Surely the last two thousand years have rendered that verdict.
Despite all that, the novel does its job well enough, summing up with John’s stay on Patmos and the vision that is “Revelation.” I did wince a bit when John refers to the Second Coming as Jesus’ “Glorious Reappearing,” which, strangely enough, just happens to be the title of a “Left Behind” book. Funny how that happens. Still, LaHaye and Jenkins aren’t interested so much in art as much as evangelism. For the curious reader, John’s Gospel, his epistles, and Revelation are printed in an appendix following the novel.