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*****= An all-time favorite
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*        = Good, with reservations


***Stones of Jerusalem

The Zion Legacy, Book 5

by Bodie and Brock Thoene

Reviewed March 29, 2003.
Viking, New York, 2002.  266 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F THO).

Although this is Book 5 in the Zion Legacy Series, you really only need to have read Book 4, Jerusalem Scrolls, to enjoy it.

Stones of Jerusalem is a Biblical novel set in the time of Christ.  As in so many of their books, the authors focus on several characters and skillfully weave their stories together.  We see some familiar names from the gospel accounts, as well as some invented characters.  We see how their lives are touched by the events of the gospels.

Although the book is well-written, I had two major complaints against it that ruined it for me.  I have a friend who loved it, so these objections may only bother me.

First, they completely scrambled the chronology given in the gospels of the events in Christ’s life.  One of the opening chapters has an event that happened during the week before Jesus’ death.  One of the closing chapters has an event that happened at the beginning of his ministry.  And the chapters in between are similarly out of order.

This bothered me a lot, as I like to feel that Biblical novels might have really happened if we knew more details.  If this book had happened the way it’s written, the Bible would be completely out of order.  There is a logical progression of events in the gospels that is completely ignored in this book.  An example sermon they put in Jesus’ mouth uses Biblical quotations from very different times in his ministry as well.  Their way of tying events together with the characters of their story is interesting and inventive, but I wish they had stuck with the same order of events given in Scripture.

My other complaint is more personal.  I’ve always liked the character of Martha of Bethany, based on John chapter 11.  I know that she gets a bad rap because of the passage where she’s harried and hassled in the kitchen.  But in John 11, when her brother dies, she shines much brighter than Mary.  She’s the one who truly seems to believe that Jesus can raise Lazarus from the dead.  The Martha presented in this book is a horrible person!  I know, it’s before she believes in Christ, but they messed up one of my favorite characters.

Again, I might be the only one bothered by these things.  It is a good book, drawing you into the story and making you think about what it must have been like for people who actually met Jesus in the flesh.  I liked it well enough that I definitely plan to read the next book in the series.

Reader comment:  Cindy McNeely gives the book two stars, and comments:  "I could not agree with you more.  I was deeply bothered by the mixing of the chronology and the negative portrayal of Martha and her brother.  However, Marcus and Felix's scepticism and searching are very real.   

"I do enjoy the portrait of Jesus.  The authors have made him very accessible." 

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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