The Gospel According to Lazarus

Written by Richard Zimler
Review by Pamela Schoenewaldt

Bestselling author Richard Zimler crafts a distinctly Jewish view of the mission and execution of Jesus of Nazareth (here termed Yeshua, of Natzeret) through the eyes of his boyhood friend, Lazarus, whom Yeshua has raised from the dead. Blessed, tainted, and deeply shaken by his experience, Lazarus sees his life, thoughts, even his body deeply entwined with his friend Yeshua and is terrified that powerful forces are massing against them.

Zimler vividly draws daily life under a brutal Roman occupation and complicit Jewish hierarchy and the complex weaving of Hellenistic thought, mysticism, Torah teachings, and yearning for a messianic leader to drive out the oppressor. We see a deeply human Yeshua, a family friend of Lazarus, given to jokes, youthful love, and long night conversations over cups of “posca” wine.

After the arrest of Yeshua, Zimler posits desperate, behind the scenes efforts of friends and disciples to save their teacher from crucifixion. The Gospel According to Lazarus takes us years later, as those now calling themselves Christians establish far-flung communities, espousing what Lazarus views as the ridiculous fairy tale of his old friend and drinking companion’s divine birth. Readers of whatever faith, or none, will be fascinated by this unique view of a Jewish carpenter’s son whose story has so profoundly shaped the Western world.