“Thus it was that everyone who heard him or laid eyes on him formed an image of him, and believed him a holy man or a madman, a heretic or a sage, with deepest certainty.” Four narrators, who possess one or more of this quote’s reactions, describe their experience of Jesus of Nazareth. Yihuda of Qiryat (Judas), Miryam of Migdal (Mary Magdalene), Miryam (Mary, Jesus’ mother), and Simon of Gergesa (a young Syrian shepherd) portray this man, perceived to be a secret rebel, teacher, outcast, and victim. Who, exactly, was this person whose life has transformed civilization?
Ricci’s plot evolves with spare but highly effective prose that elucidates a Jesus who was quite knowledgeable, perceptive yet blind to his detractors, gifted with healing expertise, loving yet objectively detached from those who would claim favoritism, popular yet a threat to Roman and Jewish leaders, and gregarious yet needing increasing occasions for solitude. The narrators’ projections intensify the discussions, disputes, and alliances of Jesus’ followers and enemies.
Faithful to the four Gospels yet captivating the reader with the Greek, Roman, Jewish, Syrian, rich, and poor environment of Palestine, this exquisite novel about Jesus’’ humanity and mission deserves extraordinary attention.