The Life of Christ Historical Fiction

The Bronze Bow

Book cover: 'The Bronze Bow'
Author(s): 
Elizabeth George Speare
Copyright: 
1961
Publisher: 
Houghton Mifflin
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
256 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare, brings to life the era when Jesus walked on the earth. The book is written through the eyes of Daniel bar Jamin, a poor village boy, who is desperately seeking to revenge the crucifixion of his father at the hands of Roman soldiers. Daniel lives in the hills above Ketzah with a band of thieves, who ruthlessly attack Romans at every opportunity. The stark hatred that drives Daniel contrasts sharply with the love that he receives from his friend, Joel, and his own gentle sister. The movement of Jesus and his apostles form a shadowy sub-plot. The novel moves from the overwhelming hatred of Daniel towards the Romans, to the kindness of the Christians that he encounters. The Bronze Bow was written in 1961 and won a well-deserved Newberry Medal for excellence in literature in 1962. It is a superb example of compelling historical fiction and a terrific family read-aloud. Highly recommended.

Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

The Face of the Nazarene

Book cover: 'The Face of the Nazarene'
Author(s): 
Noel Trimming
Copyright: 
1997
Publisher: 
The Saint Austin Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
157 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

The Face of the Nazarene is a work of historical fiction relating the story of Jesus as seen through the eyes of His friends at the home of Lazarus in Bethany. Although Mr. Trimming's earlier book, Abigail and the Widow Mary, was aimed at younger children, this story contains greater character development and more plot intensity, and thus would be more enjoyable for older children and teens. Like Abigail, the Face of the Nazarene paints a very accurate picture of life at the time of Jesus as the author takes us from the busy streets of Alexandria to the serene oasis of Bethany. These historical details and vivid descriptions are somewhat reminiscent of the writings of Louis de Wohl.

As the story unfolds, we see the powerful influence of "the Master" upon his devoted friends - especially Judah, the headstrong young charge/apprentice to Lazarus. Judah and his friends are gravely concerned about the plottings of Jesus' enemies and they desperately wish to do something to protect him. The story helps to give us a very real sense of their helplessness and sorrow as they watched His Passion and death unfold. Mary's sorrow and faith during this difficult time are also very beautifully rendered. The reader, who has experienced the sorrow of the Passion with Jesus' friends will also rejoice all the more with them at His Resurrection

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

The Fourth Magi

Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 
Review: 

The Fourth Magi is the story of Artaban, a Persian magi, whose family has recently died tragically. Artaban, while studying the stars, discovers a new star, the one foretold in the Old Testament. He resolves to follow the star and find Jesus, despite the ridicule of his friends. Taking his ever-complaining slave, Orantes, he embarks on his perilous journey of faith.

The movie details the journey of Artaban and the many trials he encounters. In the end, Atraban meets the physical Jesus only on his death bed, but we learn that Artaban had been ministering to Jesus whenever he helped "the least of my brothers".

Our family highly recommends this movie for family viewing. Orantes provides several interludes of comic relief. Though the story is fictional, it would still be an excellent addition to your study of Israel in the time of Jesus Christ, and an inspiring movie for all to watch. *****

The Fourth Magi stars Martin Sheen and Alan Arkin, and is based on the novel, The Story of the Other Wise Man, by Henry Van Dyke. The movie was produced in 1985 by Paulist Productions.

Review Date: 
7-25-2000
Reviewed by: 

The Spear

Author(s): 
Louis de Wohl
Copyright: 
1955
Publisher: 
Ignatius Press
Binding: 
Softcover
Number of pages: 
401 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

A fast-paced fictionalized account of the centurion who thrust the spear into the side of Christ. The book was clearly written for adults, but might be suitable for older teens. There is a great deal of violence (as might be expected), an attempted suicide, and other content appropriate for those with some degree of maturity. The story is very Catholic and the author weaves many Catholic ideas and thought into the conversations of the characters as well as showing how much people of that time (particularly the Romans) were in need of the message of Christ. The centurion in particular (Cassius Longinus) has lost all faith in fellow man and life in this world until he begins hearing about the Rabbi Yeshua and his followers. The immense quantity of well-researched historical details add a lot to the story as well.

There is a scene in which a woman commits adultery (the same woman who Jesus saves from stoning). While the issue is important and is handled well, their attraction for each other might be described in a too-sensual way for some teens.

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
1999
Reviewed by: 

The Story of the Other Wise Man

Book cover: 'The Story of the Other Wise Man'
Author(s): 
Henry Van Dyke
Publisher: 
Lepanto Press
Binding: 
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
72 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Review: 

This is the intriguing and classic story of Artaban, the "other" wise man who searches for Jesus his whole life while "foolishly" spending his treasures - which had been intended as a gift for the newborn king - on the poor and needy. A beautiful and touching story, it is quite short, but the vocabulary is challenging enough to be appropriate for upper grade school or high school

Perspective: 
Catholic
Review Date: 
4-26-01
Reviewed by: