In his debut novel, Raymond sheds new light on an old story, linking ancient political history to the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
This historical novel presents an alternative version of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, portraying him not as a humble, stable-born carpenter, but as the grandson of Herod the Great, the grandson of the last Hasmonean king Mattathias Antigonus and the last scion of the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty. The story is told primarily in flashbacks from the point of view of Menelaeus, the son of Mary’s servant (Mary is here called “Princess Mariamne”). Menelaeus was a contemporary of Jesus and knew him since childhood. Beginning with the political machinations that brought Herod to power, the tale winds through Jesus’ birth, life and works and ends with the possibility that Jesus survived his crucifixion. Raymond’s research is praiseworthy; the book’s careful attention to detail and meticulous footnotes draw clear connections between known history and biblically-reported events. At times, the story gets bogged down in exposition, and when the characters do speak, their reliance on anachronistic, modern English idioms can be jarring. When the book turns from facts to fiction, however, the characters’ challenges are sufficiently true to life to keep readers engaged. The life of Jesus is one of the world’s best-known stories, but this novel offers a fresh view; even the most biblically literate reader will keep reading to find out how it turns out. That said, readers with little knowledge of the Bible or classical antiquity will not be left adrift, as Raymond takes care to lay out all the facts, even when explanations risk detracting from the story.
A well-researched what-if tale about the life of Christ.