Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt

Anne Rice, Author . Knopf $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-375-41201-1

Rice departs from her usual subject matter to pen this curious portrait of a seven-year-old Jesus, who departs Egypt with his family to return home to Nazareth. Rice's painstaking historical research is obvious throughout, whether she's showing the differences among first-century Jewish groups (Pharisees, Essenes and Sadducees all play a part), imagining a Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem or depicting the regular but violent rebellions by Jews chafing under Roman rule. The book succeeds in capturing Jesus' profound Jewishness, with some of the best scenes reflecting his Torah education and immersion in the oral traditions of the Hebrew Bible. As fiction, though, the book's first half is slow going. Since it is told from Jesus' perspective, the childlike language can be simplistic, though as readers persevere they will discover the riches of the sparse prose Rice adopts. The emotional heart of the story—Jesus' gradual discovery of the miraculous birth his parents have never discussed with him—picks up steam as well, as he begins to understand why he can heal the sick and raise the dead. Rice provides a moving afterword, in which she describes her recent return to the Catholic faith and evaluates, often in an amusingly strident fashion, the state of biblical studies today. (Nov. 7)

Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
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