While traveling to India and back, I had a chance to read Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord. I had first seen the book in our local Wal-Mart around Christmas time and I thought to myself, “Isn’t this the vampire woman?” I had remember of friend of mine in Oklahoma was a huge Anne Rice fan, but initially I dismissed her new work. I tend not to read much fiction because I reserve my reading time for books on spirituality and theology. (Little did I know that Christ the Lord fit into those categories!) Then I started to hear about Rice’s return to the Christian faith and the buzz surrounding this book. So I picked up a copy and decided to read it on my trip to India.
Rice says in her extended “Author’s Note” that she decided to write this book when she was ready to do “violence” to her career (309). I can understand where she was coming from because the audience of her very popular Vampire Chronicles may be different from the potential audience of this new series—but I think that this turn in her writing is not career suicide, but a “stepping in” to the purpose she was always created for.
Christ the Lord is a wonderfully-written and meticulously-researched novel on the boyhood life of Jesus. It is written in the first person with Jesus as the narrator. It chronicles the life of his family and their move from Egypt to Nazareth. It captures Jesus in his historical setting—that of a first century Jewish boy. Rice masterfully paints the picture of the first century world in which Jesus lived. In this historical context, Rice pursues the introspection of the young Jesus he comes into the awareness of who he is. She does this in vivid, and often humorous, dialogues between Jesus and his family and in thoughtfully-written inner monologues as Jesus begins to make sense of the unusual incidences and stories surrounding his birth and life. I greatly enjoyed Cleopas, Jesus’ uncle—who was a humorous instigator in Jesus’ journey of self awareness. I felt like I gained a new appreciation of Joseph’s quiet leadership. I was a bit disappointed that Mary was not developed in more detail. I expected to see her in a greater role, especially since Rice comes from a Catholic perspective.
I highly recommend Christ the Lord for it’s historical reliability and orthodox position that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed Christ the Lord, the son of the living God. Rice stretched me theologically especially as related to Jesus’ ability to perform miracles BEFORE his baptism in the river Jordon. The opening story left me with some questions about the sinlessness of Jesus. Did he sin in this opening story in chapter 1? I cannot go into detail, because I do not want to ruin Rice’s powerfully opening to the book, but I concluded that the boy Jesus did not sin in this opening act.
Finally, let me say thank you to Anne for her passion and diligence in researching and writing this book. I agree with Mike Morrell that her review of biblical and historical scholarship would “give a seminary student an inferiority complex” (Relevant March/April 2006). As a seminary student myself, I feel quite inferior and very much impressed with Anne’s work. I am certainly a new fan. Thanks Anne for doing “violence” to your career…
For more an Anne Rice, go to her webpage at www.annerice.com.