A gripping read and a real page-turner. The story of Jesus' last Passover in Jerusalem, this is a new take on the Christian crucifixion and resurrection story from the perspective of some of the major players other than Jesus and his disciples. John Bridges has worked hard to get inside the minds and lives of those involved and create realistic scenarios without making it another gospel, yet also without endangering the central truths of the Christian message. Thoroughly recommended for those without Christian convictions as much as for those who hold them deeply.
As a long term fan of the literary contribution made by historical fiction to a more holistic understanding of history, I was delighted to be given this book. Whilst it is written by a priest, at no point does it make an explicit case for faith in Jesus as the Son of God. It is far more a case of attempting to look at the events of the last month of Jesus' life through the eyes of his enemies and chance acquaintances - and those who could not avoid him and the questions he posed, much as they might wish to do so. Any conclusions to be drawn about who Jesus really was and what he was about is left firmly in the reader's court, exactly as it was for men like Caiaphas, Pilate, and those around them at the time. The author also makes many telling points (through discussions by the characters) about why this story stuck in people's minds and why it should be disbelieved, especially in its own time. The fact that it was believed and never successfully suppressed makes it all the more amazing and likely to be true.
On a more literary note, Revd Bridges' attention to first century detail is impressive, but never overtakes the narrative. As someone who has studied that period of history extensively (as both Classicist and theologian) I find his writing engaging and thought-provoking, with none of the irritating minor erros or clumsy heavy-handedness so commonly found in authors of lesser skill attempting to write historical fiction. I believe that this is the author's first novel; I sincerely hope he picks up his pen again in due course.
by Tuppy Burlington