If you're looking for just one epic novel set inJesus' time and revolving around his life and death, choose The Murdered Messiah.
Book 1, Miracle in Galilee reveals the brutalities of Roman overlords:How does a good man- even a messiah figure - emerge under the rampant cruelty of his times? This novel expands the traditional images of Jesus as miracle worker and pacifist, adding deep political and social analysis. Did Jesus believe he was the Messiah? Gospel passages, early Judean history,insights from Scripture all contribute to this exploration, which includes numerous maps, an historical timeline and fascinating images of Jesus' times.
In the Prologue we meet Yossi, an Israeli tour guide, and Wajeeh, the Arab gatekeeper of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem."The sights, smells, sounds, and politics of this old world town come alive in passages that are captivating, realistic, and sparkling with intrigue and mystery. They race to the church, confronting six patriarchs, furious about the theft of precious ancient scrolls. Past and present are deeply connected in Miracle in Galilee. Satisfying surprises challenge the reader.
Fragments of a life and time bound together, unwound and re-interpreted by a Biblical scholar. A woman named Judith claims to be the sister of Yeshua as she captures the intricacies of her world: "This spring morning, Miriam had risen before dark, dressed and hurried to the well, anxious to complete her chores and still have time for a stroll through the hills...." Judas, Joseph, Miriam, and other Biblical figures come alive. The plot has been crafted with an expert's attention to riveting action and realistic events. Time for Book 2!
'"The finest novel aboutJesus--ever!"
- Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
. Unmasking the way Christianity’s traditional versions of Jesus’s story and modern conventional piety have made the deep drama of Jesus enmeshed in the middle of roaring cruelty and loss into sentimental pabulum, this gripping new novel allows a whole set of meanings to emerge for the 21st century reader.
From the Foreword by Hal Taussig, Ph.D, Professor of Early Christianity, Minister and Author
Book 2: Massacre of the Innocents
Enlivened with joy, wonder and characters that sparkle!
Joshua(Jesus) grows into a young adult facing brutal Roman rule under vicious Pontius Pilate. He meets John the Immerser and encounters many rites of passage, finding love and coping with family loss. Joseph and Miriam have six more children, but Joshua is different; when Ari the Sage is stricken by a stroke, he is only brought back by Joshua's ministration:"How did you heal Ari?" one of the elders asked. Joshua spoke sharply. "Only GOD heals," he said.
Soldiers and renegades, conflicted feelings about fighting injustice, pilgrims and rebellions; as Joshua's struggles to stay true to his heart and his God, all come to life:
"[Brother] Jacob asked." Aren't we going to fight for God?" Joshua smiled at him. "Only if the Lord tells us to.""How will we know?" "We won't talk," Joshua said,"we'll listen."
Massacre of The Innocents creates a sweeping saga that strives for historical, Biblical, psychological and social accuracy-- highly recommended for all kinds of audiences--enlivened with a sense of joy, wonder, moral and ethical confrontations, and characters that sparkle. Will Joshua's message of love be overcome by vengeance and hatred? Events are riveting and engrossing setting the stage forBook 3.
"Delightful-both entertaining and thought-provoking!" -
The Murdered MessiahReviewed by Karen Rigby
December 7, 2016
The Murdered Messiah skillfully recasts Jesus as a man whose peaceful dissidence revealed the meaning of biblical love.
Son of God, radical, enigma, rabbi, martyr—Jesus of Nazareth has long fascinated believers and nonbelievers. In The Murdered Messiah, a deeply imaginative historical novel, Len Lamensdorf recasts the monumental figure as a man whose family tragedy unfolded amid Roman hostility.
Jesus—named Joshua in the novel, a derivative of Yehoshua in Hebrew—is born of violent circumstances. The daring plot detail immediately positions him as a man with dark origins, and not as a divine figure whose mission is evident from the outset. The path from his upbringing as the adopted son of a carpenter to a resolute figure who finds the seeds for his ministry in the book of Isaiah unfolds in complex turns that emphasize his humanity as well as his faith. Occasional chapters written from the perspective of those close to him—including his mother, his brother, his wife, his sister, and Judas—enhance the drama through first-person testimonies.
The foreboding plot skillfully moves between the story of Joshua’s mother, Miriam; Joshua’s gradual confirmation of his calling; the conversion of a Roman soldier and rapist, Gaius; Judas’s flight from his Roman persecutors; ongoing unrest caused by Pontius Pilate’s men; divisions among the Sanhedrin; and how the lives of these first-century men intersect.
One of the novel’s most speculative, central ideas—that a massacre by the Romans spurred Joshua toward a messianic role—provides a controversial theory for his actions. Less focused on fulfilling prophecy and overturning the law of the Hebrew Bible than on finding a peaceful way to end the Roman occupation, Joshua’s efforts highlight the degree to which he feels the political devastations on his people.
Lamensdorf’s version remains mostly faithful to the Bible’s best-known moments. From the Sermon on the Mount to acts of healing, Joshua’s charismatic persona unfolds. When departures do take place—including an alternative to the events after the resurrection—or when the work takes cinematic turns— including a frame story outside of Joshua’s story that involves a hunt for stolen scrolls—the writing quickens, even loosens. A few embellishments lead toward expected, familiar perspectives, including a brief account from Miriam of Magdala. Still, bold portrayals of the characters’ thoughts propel the story.
Apt scenes alternate between the treachery of the Romans and the movement forming amid Joshua and his followers. Judas especially stands out for his struggle to reconcile his former warring instincts with respect for Joshua’s instructions. That Joshua includes him in his inner circle—even while knowing what Judas is experiencing—illustrates his profound hope in God’s deliverance.
With a dramatic buildup toward Passover, the novel works through insightful themes on divine law and human interpretations, sedition, and freedom. The novel successfully portrays Joshua’s faith without lionizing him. From start to finish, his otherworldliness remains grounded in daily interactions. In The Murdered Messiah, peaceful dissidence reveals the real meaning behind the Bible’s tenets of love.
THE MURDERED MESSIAH REVIEW
I don’t honestly know if Len Lamensdorf, author of “The Murdered Messiah,” is regarded as an historian. He researches, studies, and writes about it, and has an undergraduate degree in History, but to be regarded as a respected historian, as I understand it, is a peer acceptance sort of thing. I do know that he is obsessed with his subject, Jesus of Nazarene, has put immense research into it, and has written a glorious account of a revered life. That qualifies him as being an expert in my not-so-expert mind.
This book, written as a novel, presents the life of Jesus in a readable and authentically correct manner. I found Lamensdorf’s work to be mesmerizing. Until now, my acceptance of Christ was based on convoluted and confusing Bible passages (and a demanding mother who required my presence in church every Sunday). To me the actual person was an image without much essence, a cloud. After reading Lamensdorf’s book, Jesus has become a person I can relate to as I more fully appreciate the miracle of his existence.
The freedom of fiction writing creates several assertions that, in Lamensdorf’s work, don’t square with the usual Christian accounts of Jesus’ life. For instance, his mother, Mary, was not a virgin and Joseph was not his father. Jesus was married and fathered two children. Roman soldiers massacred his wife, Rebekah, and both children before he found his calling. He was a reluctant messiah, not deeming himself worthy. Many thought he was timid to the point of cowardice. The crucifixion portrayal is heartbreaking. The author has fearlessly presented these events with excellent clarity. Rather than doubt them, I am willing to accept their veracity based on Lamensdorf’s exhaustive study.
This book was a revelation to me, difficult to read, at times, with incomprehensible names and places but with messages and tenets I could understand. Parables are voiced in plain language. This book needs to be read and accepted, particularly in our time of disorder and confusion. Our commonality with the time of Jesus is astounding.
I urge you to read this book, study it, ruminate on it, and to thank Len Lamensdorf for bringing it to life.
Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
Nov 15, 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
In the Murdered Messiah, Lamensdorf explains the life of Jesus (or Joshua) from the time he visiting the temple when he was 12 years old until his death. His was a life of full of the love of God and redemption. He advocated turning the other cheek against the Romans and peaceful rebellion. Lamensdorf turns away from the miracle of Jesus' birth and death, explaining them with no-nonsense hypotheses. I must admit I was a little uncomfortable with this book at time, because it does deviate from scripture, sometimes by a lot, but it was a tale of love and redemption. I came away feeling blessed and loved by God. In the love the apostles showed and felt for Jesus, we can see how charismatic he really was. Lamensdorf writes with a clear hand, describing his story in a way that makes it come alive. The character of Pontius Pilate is a good case in point - this is a man who so hated Jews that he couldn't see past his need to to start a rebellion to kill as many of them as possible that he attempted to implant spies in the crowd to get them all worked up. Not a quick read, this book is over 700 pages, it a read that will change your perspective on life. I highly recommend it.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the opportunity to have read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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