Saturday, June 07, 2008

Christ the Lord Out of Egypt by Anne Rice

I've been intrigued about this book ever since it came out and when I was perusing the library last week searching for a read it jumped off the shelf and into my hands. I confess the author's note at the back of the book was more compelling than the story itself. Anne Rice describes her journey back to her Roman Catholic roots, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and artistically. That's where the real story lays, in my opinion.

But her narrative did hold my interest. Rice speculates (through careful research) the year after Jesus, Mary, Joseph and their extended family return from Egypt to Nazareth. If you recall from your Bible reading Joseph had an angel visit him shortly after Jesus' birth telling him to take the family to Egypt. Herod was on a rampage to kill the baby born King of the Jews.

So the story opens with the family leaving Alexandria hoping to get to Jerusalem in time for the Passover celebration. When they arrive in Jerusalem they are met with chaos as Herod has been killed, his palaces set afire, rebel after rebel is attempting to overthrow the Roman hold over Israel. They return to Nazareth.

Jesus is seven and just becoming aware of his "specialness". People look at him strangely. He asks questions of Joseph and Cleopas (Mary's brother) and never gets a straight answer. He hears rumors of his birth, the brief past he has lived and wants to know more. He has experienced some strange things - healings, prayers answered instantly and is drawing closer in his relationship with the Creator, his Father. James, his brother (Joseph's son through his first marriage) spills the beans by revealing the birth story - in the manger, the angel visiting the shepherds, the magi coming, the whole Christmas story. By the end of Rice's story Jesus is growing in wisdom and understanding that he was born to die, born to experience this life in order to die. It is all told through his perspective.

I just noticed on Amazon that Ms. Rice has another book out on Jesus...Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana (published this past March). I'll be eager to read it.

1 comment:

Julo said...

I really truly liked both of her books about Jesus. I think what intrigued me was that I used to be an avid reader of her vampire novels prior to becoming a Christian. I could hardly believe she'd converted to Catholicism about 10 years ago.

I would definitely caution a reader who might be a Christian with a Catholic background to be sensitive to her over-emphasis on Mary, namely that Rice implies she never knew another man, but that Jesus' "brothers and sisters" were only half siblings or cousins or adopted by the family.

She also takes some of her stories from the Gnostic gospels. I don't think this is bad in and of itself, since the novel IS a novel and not a commentary on Scripture. I think they just helped sparked her vivid imagination.

I took delight in letting my mind wonder what it must have been like to be the child man/God.

The Road to Cana covers the three years before Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding at Cana. The account of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is truly the high point of the book, so once you're done with Out of Egypt, get the next one!

I'm anxious to see the last book, specifically how she will deal with the crucifixion and resurrection.

All in all, I would recommend these books to anyone. I'm reading through Mark now and her books have made the stories come more alive for me than before.