By Jim Bishop
Harper & Row, 306 pp, 1957
This being the Lenten season, I figured it
was an appropriate time to read this fictional account of Christ's
crucifixion. Written by Jim Bishop, author of The
Day Christ Was Born and The
Day Lincoln Was Shot, it is an interesting but at times boring
account based on the prevalent scholarship in the 1950s. I'm not enough of
an expert on Biblical archaeology to judge the book's credibility or
truthfulness, but I didn't read the book to get a history lesson.
I bought this at a used bookstore about a
year and a half ago because it was cheap and looked interesting. As a
life-long Christian, I'm familiar with the Passion story, but had never
read a fictional account of it.
The book does provide various insights into
the familiar story. The fictional narrative is broken up by background
sections, in which Bishop offers non-fictional information about Christ's
life and times. We learned how the Jews lived, worked, and played in
Jerusalem, how the Romans ruled Palestine, and were given a brief account
of Jesus' life and ministry. The background sections do provide some
helpful contextual information, but much of it could have been worked into
The story itself, at times, reads like a
non-fiction account. Dialog is sparse as Bishop preferred to sum up
conversations rather than detail them. Bishop writes from multiple points
of view, shifting from one character to the next, and interjecting
explanations of various passages and utterances.
The result is a novel that reads at times
like an encyclopedia article. I usually finish a book like this in a few
days or a week, but this took so long because it didn't hold my attention.
That surprised me because I am very much fascinated with Biblical history.
If anyone knows of a better novel about
Jesus and his times, please let me know.