THE WELCOMING DOOR: Parables of the Carpenter

Kenny Kemp, Author
Kenny Kemp, Author . Harper San Francisco $18.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-008264-2
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This short, warmly written novel takes a new approach to fictionalizing the life of Christ. Rather than fleshing out the chronology of the Gospels, Kemp imagines a young Christ (Jeshua) coming of age as a carpenter and living through the parables he later teaches. Kemp focuses on only three of these parables: the prodigal son, the parable of the talents and the good Samaritan. In each case, Jeshua has been hired to do a job that places him in the center of the drama and allows him to redeem the characters (even the jealous older brother, the servant who failed to multiply his single talent and the violent thief). Turning these parables into actual stories anchors them to details, perhaps diluting their power as compact, versatile teaching tools. But for Christian readers looking for a simple but engrossing imagining of these parables, Kemp has done an admirable job. His far greater accomplishment is his characterization of a young Jesus — a most delicate undertaking. Deftly, Kemp creates a Jeshua who is human, who sometimes doubts himself, who becomes exhausted and frustrated, but who is the kind of man readers will wish they could work alongside or have as a brother. Such a thoughtful treatment of what Jesus would do when confronted with the characters and events of the parables makes this novel an effective and engaging illustration of Christian theology. (Oct.)

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