Behold the Man is the culmination of the Jerusalem Chronicles and brings readers to an encounter with the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
How could Jesus—who preached righteousness before God, and love and mercy toward neighbors—be so hated and pursued? To the Temple officials, he was a threat to the livelihood and authority of the priesthood. To Herod Antipas, he was a threat to his ambition to be the King of the Jews. And to the Roman overlords, he was seen as a dangerous threat; a man who commanded an army of the common people. He could heal wounds, offer miraculous provisions, and even raise from the dead. If Jesus had accepted popular acclaim and become an earthly king, he would have been unstoppable.
Jesus’s last days are explored through three people who interacted with him: Governor Pilate, for whom Judea will either make or break his career; Pilate’s wife, Claudia, desperately seeking aid for her much loved, crippled son; and Centurion Marcus Longinus, caught in the middle between loyalty to the Empire, love for Claudia, and an ever-increasing belief in Jesus as the Son of God. After encountering Jesus, none of them will ever be the same.
Behold the Man is the third in the Jerusalem Chronicles, a series I didn’t think I’d finish. I’d liked When Jesus Wept well enough although I did have a couple of issues with it, but I was disappointed with Take This Cup. I believe Behold the Man is the best of the series, so I’m thankful I chose to read it.
This is a wholly Roman perspective of the New Testament. Claudia is the main character, and the one who links everyone else together. The Thoenes speculate on her imperial background, but it’s a theory I’d heard of previously. What I don’t think I’d come across before was the idea that her mother was actually a Hebrew, which would mean she was also. Her marriage to Pilate is not portrayed as a romantic one; this Pilate is brutal and merciless toward her. He is arrogant and doesn’t follow advice, something which plays a part when she tells him of her dream about Jesus during Holy Week. Marcus Longinus, meanwhile, struggles to maintain peace in the region, knowing that his greatest enemy could well be the man with whom he was raised. Other characters include an Ethiopian slave, Claudia’s son, various Romans, and well known historical figures such as Herodias and Caiaphas.
If you enjoy historical novels about political intrigue, this is a good book for you. The Roman Empire during the first century was a time of bitter rivalries and treachery. You didn’t know who to trust or support; one wrong move could end your life. Behold the Man doesn’t say what happens to the majority of the main characters, although there are Latin traditions and other anecdotes about Pilate’s death. This aspect of the book is insignificant, however, because it ends perfectly in the simplicity of the words spoken by Claudia’s son: “Jesus is risen!”
Thank you to Zondervan for my complimentary copy of Behold the Man, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read Behold the Man? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)
Publication Date: 01 March 2016
Page Count: 368