Anne Rice’s second installment on the life of Christ is even better than the first. Now Jesus is a young man, living in Nazareth with his extended family. One of the things Rice makes clear is how Jesus’ ‘brothers’ in the New Testament are his kinsmen.
Not only do the semantics allow for this probability, but based on her exhaustive research, Rice shows how Jesus would have lived in a traditionally local village in which nearly everyone was related in one way or another. In our modern suburban world with just immediate family, and that often fractured with individualism, it is difficult for us to remember that until very recently families were local, large and extended. People lived in close proximity with a whole clan of uncles, aunts, cousins etc. all of whom were as close as brothers and sisters.
This is a detail: the rest of the book is a startling, beautiful and intimate portrayal of Christ the Lord. Rice’s writing style is lush, opulent and sensual. In her vampire and witch books it also whispered with a seductive eroticism. Here that same sensuality is purified. Jesus loves the physical world he is part of. He loves people, he loves the natural world and everything in it, from the coolness of the water in the well, to the fragrant olives, the dying embers in the fire and the soft flesh of an old man’s face.
It is this pure indulgence in the beauty of the physical world that I find most moving. Here is a fully incarnate Christ–one immersed in the physical world he has made, one who is fully man, yet in and through his full humanity his full divinity shines forth.
Read these books. They are destined to become classics.
PS: Next week I will be interviewing Anne Rice for several of the papers I write for, and will report on our dialogue here.