The political climate in Jerusalem is ripe for revolt. Already insurrections, often bloody, are put down on a regular basis. Balancing the will of all powerful Rome - and the emperor - and the local religious sects takes finesse and knowledge of the inner workings of both cultures. Knowing this all too well, Roman Tribune Clavius has been tasked by Pilate to ensure that the latest round of crucifixions end before sundown, as the Jewish Passover begins then, and Pilate doesn't want another reason for the Jews to complain.
When he arrives, one of the trio of men, Yeshua, is already dead. Ensuring this is so, he orders a soldier to thrust a pilum into his side. Following Pilate's orders because of the status of the Nazarene and the possibility of his followers stealing the body to incite revolution, Clavius follows Joseph of Arimathea to the tomb, witnesses the tomb being sealed, and heads home for the day, his daily orders completed.
Only, the body goes missing, and so Pilate orders an investigation. With time ticking away and pressure building as the Sanhedrin, and the upcoming visit from on-high Rome, put the heat on Pilate, Clavius commits himself to find out the truth. But the more Clavius probes, the more reality doesn't add up. Meeting followers of Yeshua and condemners alike, Clavius' journey leads him to unexpected places . . . and people.
Risen is a compelling story offering a unique point of view of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I loved the narrative, told from the point of view of Tribune Clavius. Scattered throughout the book, in the background, are depictions of Biblical scenes, such as the earthquake the day Jesus died, the Roman soldiers gambling for Jesus' clothes, the women who followed Jesus. The way these are woven into the story, combining real events with fictional characters, brought a new feel to the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Clavius' narrative also offers a more objective, if withdrawn, view of the death and resurrection of Jesus. He doesn't believe from the start - far from it. He approaches his mission of finding the body methodically and from the point of view of a pagan Roman, who prays to the Roman gods often.
Interwoven with Clavius' story is that of Rachel, a Jewish widow who finds herself in the unlikely place of falling out of her faith because of life's circumstances. Only seeing Yeshua (as Jesus is called in the novel) one time before his death, she begins to be drawn into His following and becomes a believer. The author's note tells readers that Rachel's character was omitted from the movie for time constraints, so it will be interesting to see how the movie is without her story interwoven into Clavius'. I think the two narratives together adds another level of humanness to the story - the need for redemption and a new start.
My recommendation: read the book!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany Publishing Company book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”