THE NAZARENE by Sholem Asch
Kirkus Star


Email this review


The author of Three Cities has put the whole force of his emotional and intellectual powers into this extraordinary fictionization of the life of Jesus Christ. And yet, fine as it is, I cannot feel any assurance that it will reach the market it perhaps deserves. The basic elements of the gospel stories are included for the most part. The interpretation is colored as the individual incident is told through the lips of the reincarnation of a Jewish student of the Rabbi Nicodemon, or by a Roman officer, the one who seized Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, or in the newly discovered Gospel according to Judas Iscariot. Some new elements are introduced, not-able among them (has it any historical basis?) the fact that the tortures inflicted on Jesus were carried out by German mercenaries! It is interesting but difficult reading as one instinctively checks the episodes with the New Testament versions. The use of Hebraic spelling of proper names makes this more involved than necessary. The frame in which the story is set provides a further hurdle. But it is a great story, and this retelling somehow seems to bring into focus some of the scholarship of recent generations in a more dramatic form than hitherto available. Represent sufficiently to cover immediate calls and watch the critical reception. The interpretation is a sympathetic one for Jewish readers and may well find that market also.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1939
Publisher: Putnam