The Soldier Who Killed a King

Written by David Kitz
Review by Thomas j. Howley

It’s Holy Week of AD 30 in Jerusalem. Roman centurion Marcus Longinus, on remote duty along with his wife and children in the Jewish capital, is having a rough spell at work. It begins on Sunday during Passover. Marcus has never seen crowds of Jews so large and adoring as on this day. A prophet from Nazareth in Galilee arrives, riding on a donkey past multitudes of cheering common people. Though unassuming yet commanding in presence, He is greeted like a King. Marcus is immediately concerned until their eyes meet. The Roman hears a clear voice: “I have a future for you.”

Marcus’ anxiety is well founded. For the Romans, any talk of a “King of the Jews” threatens their occupation. They only allow approved tetrarchs like “King” Herod. And neither Herod nor the Jewish religious establishment under high priest Caiaphas want to see their lofty positions endangered. Jesus the carpenter has also earned the wrath of the merchant class by angrily ejecting them from the grounds of the city’s holy temple. So Caiaphas convinces the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to try Jesus for crimes against Rome. Pilate wants no part of this Jewish intrigue, but a rigged crowd of merchants and religious hierarchy ensures a certain end. The centurion is there for it all: the trial, the scourging, the gruesome crucifixion and the miraculous resurrection.

This novel is told in the first-person perspective of a professional military officer, and it works superbly. The Romans and some of the Jewish establishment are presented harshly, but it’s clear most of the Jewish people and even some of the Roman soldiers and their families are simple and honorable. A genuine and fresh insight into a classic, magnificent story. Well done!