"Risen"

The Story of the Resurrection as You've Never Seen It Before

Epic in scope, yet deeply personal, this novelization offers a unique perspective on the story of the resurrection. Roman Tribune Clavius is assigned by Pilate to keep the radical followers of the recently executed Yeshua from stealing the body and inciting revolution. When the body goes missing despite his precautions, Clavius must hunt it down.

His investigation leads him from the halls of Herod Antipas to the Garden of Gethsemane and brings him in touch with believer and doubter alike. But as the body still remains missing, Clavius commits to a quest for the truth--and answers that will not only shake his life but echo throughout all of history.
"Risen" is the novelization of the major motion picture (written by Angela Hunt). The story, which takes place in the days surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection, follows the Roman solder, Clavius, weary of war and death and his required allegiance to Rome, as well as a Jewish widow, Rachel, disillusioned with her people's religion, as both find themselves on a journey seeking answers, truth, and ultimately Christ. Having read the Biblical accounts, I was intrigued to read how these events might have played out, not just through the novel form generally, but also from the unique point of view of the main character. In both senses, "Risen" was an interesting, thought-provoking book, which gave depth to stories I've known my whole life and a clear message of Christ's sacrifice and love, and the forgiveness and new life He offers.

When I first started reading "Risen", I was surprised to find that Clavius and Rachel are involved in a promiscuous relationship, which I will admit didn't settle well with me. For one, I feel it's unnecessary (their lives one way or another would eventually intersect as they each sought Jesus); and for two, it's disappointing because, even if nothing is explicit, there is still "content" that may be considered inappropriate for younger ages and would mean families, for instance, couldn't read this book together. As I read and thought more, while my previous two opinions remained unchanged, I did also consider, more realistically, that much of the Bible is not rated "G" (because the Bible is about broken, sinful people), and even though I want a nice, clean story, the story of this world is broken because we are broken, and the incredible underlying storyline throughout the pages of Scripture is the message of Yeshua, the Messiah, the perfect Lamb offered as a blood sacrifice once-for-all for the sins of mankind; and Rachel represents man forgiven, no matter how "bad" her past may have been in our hierarchical view of sin. (Come to find out, as the Notes at the end of the book explain, Rachel's character isn't even in the movie at all: it was cut due to time constraints.) 

As I read, what hit me the most were the characters! Throughout the book, many different scenes and paragraphs fleshed out the relationships and interactions between various people (Pilate and Caiaphas, for instance), between Israel and Rome, Jews and gentiles, etc. I found the description and characterization of the disciples the most eye-opening (since it's easy to forget they were human or, on the other extreme, only think of their shortcomings); albeit it is the writer(s)'s interpretation, I appreciated how these men were portrayed having an unabashed love for one another and an enthusiasm about following Christ (both good reminders for Christians in this century as well!), as well as the interactions between the brothers. :) On another note, I also loved how the author wove Scripture into dialogue as often as she did (there is a neat, brief scene when John preaches to a crowd the words of what we now know as the first paragraphs of the Gospel of John, then later jokes he should "write that down").

I am glad to have had the opportunity to read "Risen". I highly recommend this book for older children and adults as not only an enjoyable, easy read, but also a book that will bring to life the most important event in History and give a refreshing reminder of the life and hope we have in Christ.

Disclaimer: This book was received for free from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.

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