by Judith Cooper
AuthorHouse UK

"The child was born just as the deepest time of night crept into the next day."

Author Judith Cooper recreates the Biblical story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, emphasizing the family’s Jewish heritage and the boy’s strong inclination to speak out against the cruelty of his people’s Roman conquerors. Her tale begins when a young girl, Miryam, is raped by Roman soldiers, and her secret—the loss of her virginity—is guarded with the help of the old widower, Yoseph. Sensing later that Miryam is pregnant, Yoseph arranges a hasty marriage and becomes her devoted husband. In Bethlehem, she gives birth to Yesue, and then to another: his twin, Tomas. Miryam will have other children, and Yesue will later marry a girl called Lena, short for Magdalena. The family is always under the protection of Yoseph of Arramatea, who will assist them at the climax of this engaging story when Yesue has been punished for his continued defiance of Roman authority.

Cooper’s narrative flows nicely. Writing in tribute to a Jewish friend, she has composed this historical fable with attention to detail. She has chosen archaic and more authentic place and name spellings—Yesue, Yacoub, Yerusalaim, Nazarat. She has conceived practical, credible explanations for the “miracles” performed by Yesue, such as his offering genuine kindness to “mad” people, thereby calming their manias and making them feel and act rational or, in the case of Lazarus, simply applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to someone who only appeared, but was not actually, dead.

For those who believe literally the Biblical testaments of the life of Jesus, the adjustments made in Cooper’s book may give offense. But for others, Cooper’s creative theories may offer a way to accept the essential facts of his life more readily.

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