Dramatic retelling of the life of Christ.
Authors as diverse as Lew Wallace (Ben-Hur) and Nikos Kazantzakis (The Last Temptation of Christ) have tried their hands at novelizing the biblical story of Jesus Christ. Into this tradition Ney enters, armed with a wealth of knowledge about ancient Near East history and culture as well as the New Testament. This lengthy retelling of the Christ story takes readers from the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke to the story of Pentecost in Acts. Ney also includes a summary of Old Testament background. One challenge that confronts every writer attempting to present a single dramatization of the Christ story is how to properly harmonize the four Gospels, since each differs in its focus and often content. In most cases, Ney manages to overcome this problem gracefully. For example, he weaves the birth narrative of Luke (presentation at the Temple) with that of Matthew (visit of the Magi) without much tension or contradiction. In parts of the biblical narrative that have little or no content (such as Jesus’ youth), Ney provides detailed historical background to keep the story advancing. This narrative is perhaps at its weakest with extrabiblical narration. Important moments sometimes fall flat, as when Jesus asks who the disciples say he is; Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” but the ensuing banter among the Apostles is anticlimactic to say the least: “ ‘Yeah, that was a bit confusing, Peter,’ Andrew remarked.’ ” Though narration could be improved, Ney certainly stays true to his vision, creating a faithful retelling of the Gospels that’s epic in scope and historically informed.
Strict scriptural adherents and modern biblical scholars may take exception with a few parts, but for the uninitiated, this version nevertheless provides an appreciable expanded story of Christ’s life.