Joseph of Arimathea

Written by Kenneth Westbrook
Review by J. Lynn Else

1st century AD. Joseph’s family has been preparing for generations. They’ve accumulated wealth in hopes of assisting the Messiah upon his arrival. Thus, when Jesus of Nazareth begins performing miracles, Joseph and his friend Nicodemus investigate. Spanning John the Baptist’s preaching to Jesus’s death, Joseph of Arimathea dives into a period where a wrong word or action could have you facing judgment from the Sanhedrin, or worse, a Roman sentence of death by crucifixion. Is Joseph’s faith stronger than his fear?

Westbrook brings the time period of the New Testament to life with ease. Joseph wants to learn more about Jesus and his message of peace and love while also running a business, supporting his family, and being a member of the Sanhedrin. His and Nicodemus’s families enliven the storyline while Joseph struggles to reconcile the teachings of Jesus versus the interpretations of the Laws. Westbrook explores Jewish family life and its struggles under Roman rule. Despite hearing about the miracles after the fact, Westbrook keeps the narrative engaging through Joseph’s hopeful wonder. I most enjoyed the concept of two Messiahs, one suffering and one conquering, and which Messiah the world needed most. In one character’s argument for the suffering Messiah, he states, “He could understand where I came from, how I feel, and what bothers me…If he’s the conquering Messiah, I could never know him…”

There are some minor editorial errors, most often missing quotation marks at the end of dialogue. Character thoughts are also not well-delineated, looking the same as the descriptive prose. By the end, I was left wanting more. This is a story of growing faith, and I’d hoped to feel Joseph’s emotions beyond the crucifixion. It makes me wonder if another story is to follow. If so, it would definitely be on my to-read list.