It is inconceivable that the distinguished and prolific Mr. Payne, at this point in his career, should elect to write a fictional life of Jesus as completely off beat as this one appears to be from its title onward. And yet if one takes him seriously one is prefoundly shocked. Not only is the emphasis throughout on the material witness of Jesus' powers--but one begins to view even the title with concern--""the Lord Jesus"" depicted as offshoot of a prosperous family, intimate with the rich and luxurious, including Mary, Martha and Lazarus (although he uses some scholarly but obscure variant on names throughout--recognizable, nonetheless), first bearing witness to his strange gift at a wedding feast, where he is enjoying the gluttonous role, by turning water into wine. Probably the portrait of his mother, Mary (Meriam), will cause the greatest consternation, as she arrives in ""a litter draped in blue silk, clad in a blue gown, the hood fringed in reddish gold, and looking so young you would think it was her own wedding."" ...Some may even resist the implications of the love between Jesus and John (Jona). As for the house in Nazareth which ""resembled a palace...and he was perfectly at home in it,"" this comes as a surprise to anyone who has been shown the cave dwelling, reputedly his Nazareth dwelling. But most disturbing of all is the general tone of the story, and the utter lack of any underlying spirituality. Ordinarily, even the most forced retelling of the Gospel story touches an emotional chord. This fails to do so, and even the beauty of the descriptive passages--the scope of the minutiae--is not enough to justify the approach. It is a Scriptural novel that the cynic alone may find palatable.