Girzone's enormously popular Joshua series (The Shepherd, 1990, etc.) continues, now taking its charismatic, Christlike protagonist to present-day Israel, where his updated parables and common-sense approach to peace spread oil on historically troubled waters. Just exactly who is this fellow? Girzone never quite says he's Jesus of Nazareth back for another round with a screwed-up world, but he hints heavily. The young man always knows the names of people he meets for the first time; he never gets worried; he knows Israel like the back of his hand; and he never talks in contractions. On foot (sandaled), the friendly, wall-tanned young man wanders into an Arab camp bearing a lost iamb belonging to the granddaughter of the local sheik. Hitting it off with the aged sheik (but not with the sheik's son), he stays to supper and later that night cures the granddaughter of snakebite. It's the first of a string of miracles for which Joshua takes no credit, pointing out that that sort of thing is God's work. The grateful chieftain provides the friendly Jew an entree into the Arab community, the first step of a nonpolitical peace process that actually works. Strolling around Israel, Joshua chats up Christians, Moslems, and Jews, making friends and followers wherever he goes, pointing out quite sensibly that things aren't going to be better until everybody stops indulging in vengeance and gets down to the work of getting along. There are numerous parallels to events of two thousand years ago, but the actors are new, and the results more upbeat. Affecting at times, and never smarmy. Still, not for the cynical.