An award-winning writer reimagines the life of Jesus, from the points of view of four people closest to him before his death.
This is the story of Yehoshuah, who wandered Roman-occupied Judea giving sermons and healing the sick. Now, a year after his death, four people tell their stories. His mother grieves, his friend Iehuda loses his faith, the High Priest of the Temple tries to keep the peace, and a rebel named Bar-Avo strives to bring that peace tumbling down.
It was a time of political power plays and brutal tyranny. Men and women took to the streets to protest. Dictators put them down with iron force. In the midst of it all, one inconsequential preacher died. And either something miraculous happened, or someone lied.
Viscerally powerful in its depictions of the period -- massacres and riots, animal sacrifice and human betrayal -- The Liars' Gospel makes the oldest story entirely new.
In her third novel, English author Alderman whose debut Disobedience won the 2006 Orange Prize for New Writers imagines an alternative history of Jesus from the perspective of those close to him who knew him as Yehoshuah, the wandering Jewish preacher. Yehoshuah's mother recalls an inquisitive boy who became "a traitor, a rabble-leader, a rebel, a liar and a pretender to the throne," and his disciple Iehuda, initially impressed by Yehoshuah's teachings and miraculous ability to heal the sick, ultimately loses faith and betrays him. In Jerusalem, the High Priest Caiaphas struggles to maintain peace between the Romans and the Jews while the Jewish rebel Bar-Avo incites war against the Roman conquerors. Alderman vibrant descriptions of life in Judea, from the animal sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem to the bloody battles against Roman rule, richly illustrate a time of tyranny and suffering, as well as a people in desperate need of faith. Through haunting prose Alderman immerses the reader into the lives of these characters, and by endowing legendary personae with human vulnerabilities and passions, she transforms an ancient story into her own engaging meditation on power, oppression, and belief.
The subject requires more erudition or perhaps maturity in a writer. The story is juicy but too facile with history even for fiction. The ending, which I so awaited, for the sack of Jerusalem would hold the story together. But it did not. It was as if a young graduate student brought in new information in the concluding chapter of her dissertation. It was a valiant try, however.