Author: Dan Hambright
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Release Date: November 29, 2021
What if Jesus Christ were alive today?
Mary is a young immigrant living in the United States during the 1980s. One evening, her mundane life is suddenly turned upside down when a mysterious stranger arrives with the unbelievable news that she’s pregnant.
There’s only one problem. Mary is a virgin.
Nine months later, she miraculously gives birth to a baby boy that would change the world forever. His name? Jesus Christ.
While most children are watching The Smurfs and roaming the aisles of Toys “R” Us, Jesus and his parents must evade a ruthless president that will stop at nothing to kill him.
As an adult, Jesus discovers his true calling and begins a ministry aimed at reaching millions of people around the globe. In a world distracted by iPhones, celebrity worship, and social media, how will he be able to get their attention?
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I wasn't sure what to make of a story set in modern times about the birth of Christ, but the concept intrigued me, so I purchased this book and dove right in.
The author did a marvellous job of sussing out what it would look like in a modern world for someone like Jesus to come along and make the proclamations he did. Everything would be recorded and debated on social media. How is Jesus performing all these miracles? Are they real or fake? Sadly, in this modern world, it isn't hard to believe that Jesus would have a more challenging time convincing everyone of who he really was and why he came. To take a true story from the Bible and change the settings was brave. Some things worked in the author's favour, and some didn't.
In this modern re-telling of Jesus, the story is set in the United States. Not in Israel. It was a bit of a stretch theologically, but the author made it work, especially regarding Mary and Joseph. While I was taken aback by an offensive word Joseph called Mary when he discovered she was pregnant, their story was very well done. The immigration aspect and how they were treated by people were spot on. The author's description of Herod and his persecution of immigrants seemed to be based on Donald Trump. How this modern Herod killed all the children in Bethlehem didn't seem like too much of a stretch based on the former President's antics. So Hambright had a lot to draw on. But, as I read on, it was clear the author had not done a lot of character development or biblical research into the people he was writing about.
I realize that sticking to the Scriptures could be problematic because of the setting, but changing the names of Jesus' family members and not including them all seemed odd. Having Jesus play violent video games and eating raw meat was out of character for him. He would never eat something with the blood still in it.
That said, the author included many updated Bible stories that might speak to someone today. He included Jesus' sermon on the mount and geared it for today's ears to hear and understand. I loved his portrayal of how Jesus interacted with people. This was the Jesus I knew.
Unfortunately, character development and scriptural consistency seemed lacking in this story. Lazarus was described as Jesus' best friend, and yet he nor his sisters are ever mentioned until he dies and Jesus comes to resurrect him. A character named Jordan has no backstory - he just suddenly appears. And John the Baptist is portrayed as wondering if everything was worth it.
I really wanted to like this book. But the author took, in my opinion, too many liberties. The disciples were often ready to come to blows, even after Jesus' death. While the violence of the crucifixion was portrayed accurately (so real it was hard to read). In the end, however, when Jesus is discovered alive, the joy and importance of that moment fell flat for me because of the disciples' constant bickering.
While this was an excellent attempt to make Jesus more accessible and relatable to the modern world, I feel the book should have had more character and story development.
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