Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
• Publisher: Ballantine Books
• Published Date: February 26, 2008
• ISBN-10: 0345492730
• ISBN-13: 978-0345492739
It seemed appropriate to me that for Easter season I read something religious. I’ve been very curious to read Anne Rice’s series about Jesus Christ as I wondered how someone famous for writing about vampires and the paranormal would turn to such a devout subject. As a fan of vampire novels and the paranormal myself, I’ve always been curious how others rationalize this devilish subject as a Christian.
Like all of Rice’s novels, “Christ The Lord” has a distinct voice. In this case, it is a childlike voice of wonder and respect. The story is told by a pre-teen child who has grown up Alexandria and knows only life as a Jew in Egypt. Traveling back to Israel with his family readers discover – along with the child – the significance of his birth and mystery surrounding his existence.
Christ As A Young Boy
Like all children, the boy in Rice’s novel slowly learns the things that adults think he is “too young to understand.” But this Jesus is special and he is beginning to realize that his prayers come true and make miracles happen; such as the clay birds that came to life. Jesus doesn’t understand how these things – that none of the adults want to talk about – happen. But he comes to understand that they are significant to those around him.
Like a child who laughs because his parents laugh, or cries because those around him cry, Jesus begins to realize that these things that happen to him and the emotions that he feels are not things that everyone will understand. He takes his clues from his father, Joseph, to keep quiet and not say what is on his mind. In fact, Joseph almost begs Jesus to no to ask about these things.
A significant influence on Jesus’ life is his mother’s brother, Cleopas. It is this uncle of Jesus, who often appears as if senile, that imparts some of the great wisdom of Rice’s book. For any reader of the Bible that knows the stories of Jesus as a man, it is Cleopas who asks, “And must you be a child first before you are a man?” It only seems right that the Son of God born as a man must learn and grow like any other child before he takes on the responsibilities of adulthood. Even a man as important as Jesus, must learn to understand the world around him before he can be an active participant in the world.
And even Jesus’ brother James, born from Joseph but not from Jesus’ mother Mary, plays a key role in this coming of age story. Like older children who feel some jealousy of a new born child in the family, James was old enough to understand the significance of Jesus’ birth immediately. James carries this burden of knowledge with him as an older child might hold onto the secret that Santa Claus is not real. While a child is content to not know what they know nothing of, a pre-teenager is consumed with knowing everything he is told he is too young to learn. As often is the case, brothers mix love with other feelings they can’t express and James plays a key role in showing Jesus that being human means dealing with mixed emotions.
Even with this novels ancient setting, I still recognized the input of a modern woman in Rice’s story. I believe that had another woman attempted to write this story in an earlier age you would not have received the insight into Old Sarah that this interpretation gives us. As women were not as significant in Jesus’ time, Old Sarah is a matriarch of wisdom and religious teachings. Jesus recognized her as a woman of significance and I think it is only fitting that an author of Rice’s fame is the one to tell that story. Don’t overlook the input that women have on this story, even if the male characters in this novel will not admit to women’s roles in their society.
Anne Rice, spiritual leader
“Christ The Lord” is an easy story to read. You feel the innocence of this child immediately and his wonder to understand his world. It makes you remember all the Biblical stories you learned as a Christian child and see them again with new wonder. What struck me was that Rice portrays Jesus’ young life filled with singing and joy even when the world surrounding his family is filled with strife. Jesus is a boy that wants to run and play and be comforted by his mother when afraid. There is peace that comes from having faith in the Lord, and Jesus is repeatedly shown by those around him that faith in the Lord is a comfort regardless of their personal struggles.
In the lengthy Author’s Notes after this story, Rice tells how even when she was living an intellectual life with her loving, atheistic husband she was always working toward telling Christ’s story. I found that insight into the author the opposite of my own personal story, as it was my husband who brought me to Christ. It goes to show that everyone’s path to the Lord is different but when you open your heart to the Lord, He’ll come in.
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