April 15, 2013

Book Review - When Jesus Wept

Author(s): Bodie and Brock Thoene
Genre: Biblical/Historical Fiction
Series: Jerusalem Chronicles
Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 321

I've somehow managed to get on some kind of Biblical fiction kick lately - every book that comes across my path seems to be in the genre. Obviously, this one was no exception.
When Jesus Wept is a story covering much of the ministry of Jesus through the eyes of Lazarus - the man Jesus raised from the dead. Miracles, parables, and the tension of Roman-held Israel are all brought to life in a first-hand perspective that I've learned to appreciate for the way it helps me think through minor details that are easy to overlook in the Bible.
As I've said in previous reviews and posts, fiction set in a biblical setting, especially starring biblical characters, makes me nervous. I'm a perfectionist, and the thought that someone from the Bible - Jesus most of all - might not be portrayed completely accurately is a lot for me to get past.
Personal hangups aside, though, I had mixed feelings about this book. Like I said earlier, I've learned to really appreciate 'seeing' events of the Bible from deep within the perspective of a story character. It challenges me to really focus on details provided in the Bible and ponder things like how I would have felt, what I might have thought, had I been placed in the same situation. And I think there's a good deal of value in that.
When Jesus Wept does a beautiful job of that, or reminding readers that Bible characters weren't some kind of super-humans who didn't experience the same emotions and fears and struggles we humans of today do. That's definitely something I enjoyed.
What I wasn't so wild about was the way events from Jesus' ministry seemed to be... well, for lack of a better term, "mashed together". It sort of had an E.D.E.N. Southworth feel to it in places - everybody related or otherwise closely connected to everybody else. The main character Lazarus was present or involved in several events and situations in which the Bible makes mo mention at all of his presence. Things like that happened in many places throughout the book. I understand the necessity, since the book was limited to the viewpoint of a single character, but it still gets under my skin. This isn't fan fiction, in which the exact details of events in Middle Earth or Narnia can be fudged on. This is the Bible, and 'tweaks' to the details just set me on edge.
And there was one particular scene that really made me nervous - the scene in which Lazarus was in Heaven, before Jesus raised him. We have so little biblical information on that subject that I really don't see how a scene with as much descriptive detail as that one had can be justified. Not to mention Lazarus kissing his deceased wife when she welcomes him, which seems to me a direct contradiction of what Jesus said about marriage in Heaven.
So on the whole, not a book I regret reading, but definitely not one I'll feel inclined to read again.

I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I requested that one--it hasn't come in yet,though.

  2. Sounds interesting, thanks for the review. I've always wanted to write a story from the point of view of one of the "lesser" disciples, maybe Simon the Zealot or the "other Judas"...I think you could add a lot of personal detail without rewriting Scripture.

    But that, sadly, is down a ways on my to-do list of things I'd like to write...(why is it I always find it easier to think of things to write than to actually write them?)

    1. Don't worry, you're not alone. We ALL find it easier to think of things to write than to actually write them. : )


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