An enjoyable if not entirely consistent attempt to fill in some of the blanks in Jesus’s life.
As any Bible reader knows, the Gospel accounts of Jesus’s life are famously sparse, and authors are tempted from time to time to fill in the gaps. Carroll follows in the footsteps of Norman Mailer, JosÃ© Saramago and Robert Graves in providing a fictionalized version of part of the Christian Savior’s life. He begins shortly after Jesus’s 29th birthday and tells the story of the period leading up to the beginning of his public ministry. Carroll describes his well-researched book as a â€œmetaphysical fantasy,” and while it’s not entirely clear what is meant by â€œmetaphysical,” he aims to focus on Jesus’s involvement with esoteric religious traditions of his own day. Thus, the book will probably not appeal to the orthodox Christian content with biblical accounts of Jesus’s life (or with Timothy LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’s slavish re-creations). Carroll’s stance toward Jesus is respectful but daring, and devout believers will probably not appreciate Christ’s dabbling in astrology or his close relationship with Mary Magdalene. But the rest will likely find Carroll’s fictional reflections on the life Jesus creative and even whimsical. In the author’s note, he writes that his book â€œunfolds in modern language with contemporary idioms.” Perhaps Carroll would have done better to cleave more closely to the sparser prose of traditional biblical language. The book is filled with wasted words. Carroll is addicted to modifiers, and his use of contemporary language invites anachronisms into his tale.
Nonetheless, the overwriting does not dampen a unique look at Jesus’s life.