A fictional dramatization of Jesus’ ministry relayed by a nameless disciple.
The unnamed narrator of the story is born in Bethlehem to a Jewish mother and a Samaritan father who regale him often with stories of the Messiah’s impending visit. As a young boy, he witnesses an effulgent light, and an angel of God announces that the Savior will be born on that day. He sees that newborn infant swaddled in his manger and learns that he is named Jesus. Over the course of the next 12 years, the narrator gleans nothing more about Jesus, whose family possibly fled to Egypt to avoid King Herod’s persecution. In the meantime, the narrator suffers greatly and loses his entire family to illness. He encounters Jesus—only a boy—and is invited to join him for Passover dinner. The narrator declines but soon becomes intoxicated by his humble yet radical teachings. He finds his faith continually challenged both by personal tragedy—his wife and unborn child both die during childbirth—as well his bafflement regarding Jesus’ message. It’s not quite clear to him what precisely is required of him as a disciple. The narrator is stung when Jesus doesn’t choose him to be among his 12 apostles, though he later forges a friendship with Luke, whose Gospel is the principal historical source for King’s book. The author reproduces many of the more familiar stories found in the New Testament. King’s authorial innovation—artfully conveyed with impressive historical authenticity—is the depiction of these events from the perspective of an average man for the purpose of demonstrating the universality of Jesus’ message. The prose, which aims to instruct, is always clear and sometimes refined and should be easily intelligible to a fairly young readership. In the preface, debut author King claims the book is written for a non-Christian audience as well, but it’s unlikely this will arouse the interest of those who aren’t enthusiastic believers.
A creative approach to an old story that sometimes turns didactic.