In the second installment of her Promises series, Perkins (Promises, 2010) relates the story of Christ’s death and resurrection from multiple perspectives.
Onnua and Eunice are childhood friends who are committed to their faith, although they live very different lives. As the story begins, both have met Jesus Christ, but afterward their stories differ. Onnua is the wife of Zaccheus, the tax collector who was so eager to view Jesus that he climbed a tree to see him as he walked past. Eunice is the wife of Amos, the son of a Pharisee and nephew of Caiaphas, high priest of the Temple. Onnua and Zaccheus grow closer and spiritually stronger after they meet Jesus, but Eunice’s interest in Jesus puts further strain on her difficult marriage. Eunice and her extended family prepare to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem, but she and her children—especially her eldest son, Bartemaus—are horrified when they discover the Pharisees’ plot against Jesus and even more appalled at Amos and Caiaphas after Jesus’ trial and execution. The event threatens to break their family apart, but the promise of Jesus’ resurrection may help Eunice and Bartemaus find the spiritual fulfillment they lack. Biblical retellings are relatively common, particularly those depicting the trial, execution and resurrection of Christ. However, this book is unique in the many different perspectives it uses to tell its story. Bartemaus has the strongest presence, but readers also witness responses from many other characters, including Eunice, Onnua, Zaccheus, Pontius Pilate and his wife, and Judas’ mother. Moreover, characters with fairly minor biblical roles, particularly Zaccheus, are fleshed out into three-dimensional figures who are simultaneously familiar and new. As with any series’ middle book, readers would benefit from reading the entire set. However, Perkins has a talent for summary and provides the reader with just enough background from the first book so that this installment will make sense on its own.
A fresh, engaging look at an oft-told biblical story.