A compelling look at the adolescent life of Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament, there’s an 18-year gap in Jesus’ life story, which this work attempts to fill. A curious 13-year-old Jewish boy, Joshua is suddenly cast out of his temple because he wanted to ask his rabbi a few questions. Soon after, he witnesses the stoning death of his cousin, Rachel, all because her new in-laws were convinced she wasn’t a virgin upon marrying their son. Joshua is devastated and bewildered; how could this happen to his beloved cousin? Disgusted by the Mosaic Law he’s grown up with, Joshua starts out on a journey of discovery through Galilee, Judea, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Babylon and more, along the way discussing and philosophizing with great minds of those regions. Joshua begins to form his own ideas, amassing followers and slowly evolving into the Joshua depicted in the Gospels. Mathew has poured over hundreds of documents to fill in the blanks, so to speak, of Joshua’s life. The work is impeccably researched—perhaps even a bit too much: At times, the philosophizing seems to roll on for pages as it struggles to reach a point. While this dry ruminating may inspire thinkers, average readers might find it burdensome. Toward the end of the novel, Mathew’s tale seamlessly integrates well-known characters—including Mary, Pontius Pilate, King Herod, Peter, Judas, Caiaphas, etc.—and lesser-known, contemporary philosophers. Joshua’s thoughts are notably modern, focusing greatly on the rights of women and instances of monotheists treating women poorly.
An impassioned, thought-provoking work of biblical fiction.