Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Review - Risen by Angela Hunt

I just read Risen by Angela Hunt.  When I selected this book, I did not realize that it is a novel based on a movie.  I've never read a book based on a movie before, so this is a first for me.  (I usually refuse to watch movies based on books until after reading the book, just fyi.)  This book is the story of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus told from the viewpoints of a Roman soldier and an estranged Jewish woman.  First of all, the Roman Clavius was a good character to use for a viewpoint of the Resurrection.   He is a man who is used to seeing - and inflicting - death.  He has some understanding of Jewish ways, but they are really foreign to him.  He is an interesting character, and I enjoyed seeing things through his eyes.
Rachel is a Jewish widow.  She has been living outside the customs of her people for some time, but she feels a longing to return to God.  I felt that her situation was not very likely, in that neighbors in ancient cities not only lived very close to one another, but people also did not have modern attitudes of privacy, and I feel that her neighbors would have realized that she was a widow living alone long before this point.  That said, I enjoyed her character.  Her sense of longing was palpable.
Yeshua (Jesus) is portrayed as both loving and compelling, and many of his words from the Bible are given here, although not necessarily in the scriptural context.  The author plays with events from the Bible, having some happening out of order, or with different disciples/people present.  This novel does portray Jesus's teachings in an inspiring light, and I should note for readers that it was obvious to me that the author is Protestant.
Also, and this is a very minor point, but as someone who studied Roman mythology and history, I have to point out that some of the author's generalizations about Roman morality are a bit off.  For example, women who were adulterers could face punishment in this era, as Augustus's own daughter Julia was exiled.  Also, they did believe that their gods could send weather, disasters, etc.  (Neptune was known as the "Earthshaker" and thought to be the cause of earthquakes, for example.)  There were many substantial differences between Jewish and Roman culture, but I'm a stickler for little facts like this.  Sorry for being picky. :)
Overall, I enjoyed this novel.  The characters are compelling, and the end is not predictable.  There is plenty of action, and the devotion of the early believers shows through.

I received this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

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