CHRIST THE LORD: Out of Egypt (2005)

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CHRIST THE LORD: Out of Egypt (2005)
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Profession of Faith

Browse and Search CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT on Random House's site.

With my beloved assistants, Becket and Sue, on the 2006 Tour.
Anne with her assistants
¡CompraEl Mesías: El niño judio aquí!

Having completed the two cycles of legend to which she has devoted her career so far, Anne Rice gives us now her most ambitious and courageous book, a novel about the life of of Christ the Lord based on the gospels and on the most respected New Testament scholarship.

The book's power derives from the passion its author brings to the writing, and the way in which she summons up the voice, the presence, the words of Jesus who tells the story.

This new introduction appears in the paperback edition of the book, released November 1st, 2006:

This book seeks to present a realistic fictional portrait of Our Lord in Time.  It is rooted in the faith that the Creator of the Universe became human in the person of Jesus Christ and “dwelt among us.”  The magnificent mystery of the Incarnation is accepted and affirmed as fact. Scripture is the inspiration for the emotions and powers of the Child Jesus as they are envisioned here.   History as well as the gospels is the source for this picture of a world in which Our Lord might have lived, as a little boy, in war and in peace, from day to day.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam. July 12, 2006

Discussion Questions:

1. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is told in Jesus' voice. What advantages does the first-person narration offer the author? How does it contribute to the novel's emotional resonance? How does it influence the way the novel unfolds?

2. What other literary devices does Rice use to bring the story to life for the contemporary reader? Discuss, for example, her use of imagined conversations and her descriptions of the family's interactions.

3. The Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke recount the story of Jesus' birth, the flight to Egypt, and the family's return to Israel. Does Rice take liberties with these biblical versions in her retelling? To what extent does her account echo the Gospels in both content and tone?

4. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt focuses on a period in Jesus' life not described in the New Testament. How realistic is Rice's portrait of Jesus as a young boy? How do the miracles he performs–killing and reviving Eleazer [pp. 4—7]; alleviating Cleopas' pain [p. 48] and rescuing him from death [p. 99]; and restoring sight to the blind man [pp. 279—80] –reflect feelings and wishes typical of a seven-year-old?

5. Throughout the book, Jesus questions Mary and Joseph, Cleopas, and rabbis and scholars in hopes of discovering the secret of his birth. What do the answers he receives from the various adults reflect about their relationship with Jesus, their understanding of the truth, and their own self-interests and philosophies?

6. What role does Cleopas play in his nephew's life? Why does he defy Mary and Joseph and reveal what he knows about Jesus' conception and birth [p. 45—47]? What other function does he serve in the plot? What insights do his opinions [p. 68, p.74, and p. 211, for example] give into the political situation in Israel? Is his point of view understandable in light of the history of the Jews as it is presented in the novel?

7. What makes Rice's portraits of Mary and Joseph effective? What did you admire most each of them? Are there flaws in the decisions they make?

8. Discuss the internal conflicts Jesus experiences as he pieces together the stories he hears and tries to reconcile them with his own his unsettling thoughts and fears. Do they make you feel differently about Jesus' humanity? His divinity?

9. Jesus' immersion in Jewish culture and traditions is an important aspect of the novel. What is the significance of Rice's focus on Jesus as a Jew? What insights does it give into Jesus' teachings and his ultimate mission on earth? Is the message relevant to the religious tensions in the world today?

10. Did reading Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt deepen your understanding of the origins of Christianity? Do you think readers' reactions to Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt are inevitably influenced by their personal religious beliefs and heritage?

11. In the author's note, Rice discusses her extensive research and offers a critique of recent New Testament scholarship. Do you agree with her criticism of the current "fashionable notions about Jesus" [p. 309]? Have you read articles or books that support her argument that many writers "scholars who have apparently devoted their life to New Testament scholarship, disliked Jesus Christ" [p.314]? Do you think that Rice's background and her strong Catholic faith affect the conclusions she draws?

12. Rice, who is best known for her books about vampires, expresses the hope that "Jesus will be as real to you as any other character I've ever launched into the world we share" [p. 321]. If you have read her other books, do you think that she succeeded in this goal? Whether or not you are familiar with her previous works, discuss your reactions to the following quotation: "After all, is Christ Our Lord not the ultimate supernatural hero, the ultimate outsider, the ultimate immortal of them all?" [p. 321].


BELIEFNET.COM has named CHRIST THE LORD as The Best Spiritual Book of the Year! Read the article here.


A riveting, reverent imagining of the hidden years of the child Jesus.

Attacked by a vicious bully, seven-year-old Yeshua employs uncanny powers to drop his assailant onto the sand and then to bring him back to life. It's the remarkable beginning of the 26th novel by an author whose pulpy vampire chronicles hardly prepare us for a book so spiritually potent as this. Following Jesus and his family's journey from Egyptian exile to their ancestral home, it recasts Bible stories (the Magi's visit, the presentation at the temple) in the detailed context of Jewish rebellion against Herod Archelaus, the impious ruler of Israel. A cross between a historial novel and an update of Tolstoy's The Gospel in Brief, it presents Jesus as nature mystic, healer, prophet and very much a real young boy. Essentially, it's a mystery story, of the child grappling to understand his miraculous gifts and numinous birth. He animates clay pigeons, causes snowfall and dazzles his elders with unheard-of knowledge. Rice's book is a triumph of tone -- her prose lean, lyrical, vivid -- and character. As he ponders his staggering responsibility, the boy is fully believable -- and yet there's something in his supernatural empathy and blazing intelligence that conveys the wondrousness of a boy like no other. Rice's concluding Author's Note traces the book's genesis to her return to Catholicism in 1993, her voracious reading -- a mountain of New Testament scholarship, the Apochrya, the ancient texts of Philo and Jospephus -- and her passionate search for Jesus of the Gospels. With this novel, she has indeed found a convincing version of him; this is fiction that transcends story and instead qualifies as an act of faith.

Joins Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ and Endo's A Life of Jesus as one of the bolder re-tellings.

(Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005)


Library Journal

Rice, Anne. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Knopf. Nov. 2005. c.321p. ISBN 0-375-41201-8. $25.95.

A novel narrated by Jesus of Nazareth from the author who has spent decades writing about vampires may strike many as strange, but Rice brings the same passion to her colorful account of the young Jesus and his quest to understand his strange powers (turning clay pigeons into live birds, bringing a dead child back to life). As in her other books, Rice has extensively researched the historical context in which she writes, here drawing on the Gospels and respected New Testament scholarship. The story opens with seven-year-old Jesus and his family living in Egypt where Jesus is the prize pupil of the scholar Philo. Joseph (Jesus has been carefully taught not to call him Father) decides adamantly that the family must return to their Jewish homeland in Israel. On the journey to Nazareth, Jesus continues to experience supernatural abilities and tries to come to terms with what they mean. Rice's Jesus is childlike but divine, wise beyond years yet wondering who he is and why he is different from other boys. In her attempt to breathe life into a historical religious figure, Rice's superb storytelling skills enables her to succeed where many other writers have failed. Whether or not her literary conversion will be accepted by her fans and critics alike remains to be seen. Highly recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/05.]

-Tamara Butler, Bryant & Stratton Coll. Lib,
Buffalo, NY

(Library Journal, November 1, 2005)


Jason Raia

"Dear Ones, for an interesting review of CHRIST THE LORD by Jason Raia, please go to




"Dear Ones, below is Donna Denn's new review of Christ the Lord from CompulsiveReader.Com. --Anne"

A review of Christ the Lord by Anne Rice

When you think of the writing of Anne Rice, of course you think of vampires and witches. I've read and loved those stories for years, right along with a legion of fans. They deal with the supernatural along with a wonderful feeling of history. So, given that supernatural aspect, you don't at first equate Jesus with the supernatural, do you? Or maybe you do.

Reviewed by Donna Denn

Christ the Lord
by Anne Rice
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Knopf (November 1, 2005)
ISBN: 0375412018

I've just finished turning the last page on this book, and wanted to sit down and write while everything was still fresh in my mind. There's so much here to absorb, to think about. Out of everything she's written, I think this book is the one that Ms Rice has put the most of herself in. I'll be honest with you. After reading about (and loving) vampires and witches all these years, I was VERY curious about what would happen in CHRIST THE LORD. I'm so glad I read it.

If I had to choose one word to describe this book, I could choose amazing, but I don't think that would do it justice. Surprising, unexpected, ambitious and compelling all come to mind. But I'll tell you what: when this comes out on November 1st, read it for yourself and let me know what you think. I'd be glad to discuss it with you.

When you think of the writing of Anne Rice, of course you think of vampires and witches. I've read and loved those stories for years, right along with a legion of fans. They deal with the supernatural along with a wonderful feeling of history. So, given that supernatural aspect, you don't at first equate Jesus with the supernatural, do you? Or maybe you do. Miracles do have a supernatural quality to them.

In CHRIST THE LORD Out of Egypt, you'll find a familiar story told from a unique viewpoint: that of Jesus himself. His curiosity and bewilderment of his own beginnings seems so human, especially in a young boy. His family and daily life are brought forth in a way that lets you see what his life must surely have been like. We begin with Jesus at the age of seven. He is aware that he has a power to make things happen and questions why Joseph and Mary won't explain what happened at his birth. By the time you turn the last page, he's been told who he is. The effects this has on him ring true, that this is how Jesus himself would have reacted. Jesus' relationships with those in his family are well developed, the characterizations well thought out.

I think perhaps one of my favorite sections in the book is the story of when Jesus disappeared for three days at the temple. Here is a telling of the tale that lends itself to the emotions that Jesus would have felt and will involve you on an emotional level as well.

And oh, those last words of this story (or at least this part of the story). Those words will stay with you.

The research that's gone into this story is extensive. It's easy to see that an insatiable mind is behind the words that bring this volume to life. Each page brings you the smells and sights and sounds of the life of the Christ child, rendered with care and commitment. At the end of this story, you'll find a section called Author's Note. Read it! Here Anne explains what led her to commit herself to writing this.

I always find it fascinating to hear (read) what an author thinks about what they've written, or why they've decided to write the things they do. Not only has this book had an impact on me, but the explanations behind it did as well.

One can't think of Anne Rice without thinking of New Orleans. With recent events, it'll be meaningful to revisit those old friends of mine, those books that have come before with Lestat or with the Mayfairs. They have given me hours of reading pleasure. I remember when I finished THE WITCHING HOUR. I hugged that wonderful hardcover to me and wanted to read it all over again, right then.

Mark your calendars for November 1st. That's when CHRIST THE LORD goes on sale. This is one you won't want to miss.

About the Reviewer: Donna "Diamond" Denn works at a Hastings store in the book department, and loves her job. Books are an addiction for her, and she participates in a number of reading groups online, and runs an online fantasy reading group. She also knits, crochets and works on the garden as sidelines, but books are her first love.

Thanks to CompulsiveReader.Com for posting permission.


Urban Think Bookstore

Reviewed by Jim Crescitelli, Manager

Some will say "Anne Rice has done it again. Brava!" And others will say "what the heck has she done NOW?" In any event, she's provoked comment and debate—much of it from people who have not yet read Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, her new book. Part of a new series on the life of Jesus Christ, Anne is on a mission to inform and enlighten her readers, and in a very unusual way.

Anybody can wrap their minds around vampires and demons and witches, as it's all part of our fascination with preventing the end of life via any means—or sustaining it toward any end, so to speak. In these times, however, what with factions claiming the American flag and pinning it securely to the shoulder with a crucifix, and opposite factions wanting the two symbols to exist separately, any mention of Jesus Christ can practically be guaranteed to set teeth on edge.

Not Anne. She has decided to present us with Jesus in the first person, employing real and hypothetical situations and using the words a seven-year-old might have spoken back in the first century. It’s remarkable, and presents a fresh spin on the Gospel story we are all familiar with. She captures beautifully his conundrum: he can do certain mysterious things, and people treat him in special ways… but he does not understand why. Nobody in his huge family, besides dropping numerous hints, will tell him the truth. The relationship between Jesus and his mother is beautifully delineated, as is Joseph’s special place in Jesus’ cosmos. And the extended family will delight you.

Full of good humor and fascinating descriptions of landscapes and towns and life as it was lived 2000 years ago, Anne’s new book is a departure from what we’ve come to expect from her busy pen. The prose here is cool and clean and full of light. Not intensely packed with detail (though I am a fan of the highly-descriptive novels such as Anne has delivered to us), the prose in Christ the Lord leaves room for the message she wants to share with her readers—a message which is elaborated upon in an openhearted Author’s Note. Don’t miss this challenging new book!

Thanks to Urban Think! for posting permission.


Conciliar Press Blog (by John Stamp)

When Shelly took off to go to a retreat in Danville over the weekend, I swung by Borders and picked up Anne Rice's newest novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Her book fascinates me for any number of reasons, not least of which is her return to her childhood faith. My heart rejoiced that the Prodigal Daughter found her way back to the house of the Father! I had never read any of her creepy vampire books. I am no fan of horror books or movies. Even watching old black-and-white Abbot and Costello meet Wolfman movies terrifies me.

When I finished the book late Saturday afternoon, I was amazed. The novel is quite a tour de force. Here are some initial impressions. Your mileage of course may vary.

Historical accuracy

Anne Rice has carefully done her homework. I read her Author's Note first (starting page 305), mostly because I wanted to know how she wrote this novel. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but there's a bunch of background information I should have known but didn't. For example, I didn't know anything -- or maybe I've forgotten, I'm nearly 50 -- about Herod Archelaus except that he was Herod's son. But being a wise technical writer, I did a Google search and found a great website that satisfied nearly every niggling historical question I could think of. Check out the Livius website and some of the embedded links for more information about various historical characters mentioned in the novel. I just mentally added Josephus to my already impossibly long reading queue.

Speaking of the Author's Note, given the amount of stuff she's read, I'm amazed that Anne Rice has managed to avoid stepping on dangerous theological landmines in her faith or in her novel. In that vast morass of current "Jesus" scholarship, she's figured out the lay of the land, that is, which nut cases to avoid. She favorably mentions the scholars I like (Luke Timothy Johnson, Martin Hengel, Charlotte Allen, N.T. Wright), so what's not to like?

Blessed Virgin Mary

Eastern Orthodox readers should love the book; conservative evangelical Protestants cursed with historical amnesia almost certainly won't. The Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) is indeed perpetually virgin, in Anne Rice's telling. So while the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) crowd will run backwards and snort in horror, the historical irony is that John Calvin and Martin Luther -- both decent evangelicals themselves -- wouldn't be offended in the least in Rice's portrayal of the BVM as perpetually virgin. In fact, they would be horrified at how American evangelicalism has cut itself off from Christian conciliar origins.

Mystery and miracle

I liked how slowly the story of Jesus unfolded as a seven year old boy. In one sense, the entire novel is an extended meditation on St Luke's wondrous words: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)

Anne Rice demonstrates a certain apophatic restraint in how the young Jesus comes to understand Who He Is. Eastern Orthodox readers who can appreciate mystery ("I will not speak of Your mystery to Your enemies") will certainly appreciate how certain characters (for example, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Forerunner) only discloses certain revelations when it's appropriate to do so. Characters just don't blabber out profound mysteries. Holy mysteries are treated with respect.

Some quirks emerge in Rice's novel. Maybe it just shows how wacko I have become that I loved them. I didn't mind Elizabeth sending John to live out with the Essences after she dies. I didn't mind Joseph, the BVM, and Jesus living in Alexandria and meeting Philo the famous Jewish philosopher! Later, Cleopas, one of the uncles of Jesus, even presents two manuscripts of Philo to a rabbi in Nazareth as a gift. I was charmed. Finally, I didn't mind Jesus performing certain miracles when he was a kid. They really do make sense in the context of the novel. If I can swallow the Protoevangelium of St James, a couple of pseudepigraphical miracles (from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas) shouldn't give me theological indigestion. It wasn't that long ago stories like that gave me The Willies. Maybe this is proof positive that I'm not a Fundamentalist Bible Banger anymore after all!?!?!?

I must admit that it took me nearly 121 pages before I could fully suspend my disbelief. But then Anne Rice snagged me hook-line-and-sinker.

A Jewish Jesus

What I liked best about the novel is just how Jewish Jesus is. The Jewishness of Jesus in Anne Rice's writing is carefully depicted, right down to some of the gentle humor. (But don't expect any Woody Allen or Mel Brooks jokes!) The character of Jesus is molded in the context of living first-century Judaism. This is where Anne Rice's historical research paid off in spades. For example, Jesus is certainly trilingual, and maybe even quadri-lingual. He knows Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, and perhaps even a smattering of Latin.

Chapter 17 especially enchanted me. Rice describes the young Jesus meeting three rabbis in the Nazareth synagogue for the first time. The oldest rabbi throws out a series of trick questions to the young Jesus, to test His knowledge of the Law and the Prophets. The Q+A scene is wonderful. Immediately I thought of young Reuven Malter before Reb Saunders in Chaim Potok's magnificent novel, The Chosen. Anne Rice really did a great job of emphasizing the sheer Jewishness of Jesus. The young Jesus she depicts could have been Danny Saunders or David Lurie, other characters out of the novels of Chaim Potok (of blessed memory).

Chalcedonian Christology and Human Free Will

Maybe it's fortuitous that I'm also reading through Fr John McGuckin's book on St Cyril of Alexandria right now. There are many critics of Chalcedonian Christology who think how we describe Jesus of Nazareth as one person in two natures has actually retarded Christological reflection. These critics regard St Cyril and his heritage as a Christological "dead end!" Part of the problem is we Westerners have inherited a view of the private self that I'm not persuaded stands up to scrutiny (For hints at an alternative, see Philip Cary's fascinating Augustine's Invention of the Inner Self ). Fiction writers think they have to describe a tortured Jesus to make the story credible to modern readers.

In an Orthodox Writers email list that I belong to, someone bravely admitted she had trouble making sense of humanity of Jesus, because she couldn't fathom how God could be truly human without being sinful. As I remember, she concluded the problem is with us--we aren't truly human. Sin isn't natural to the human condition. But if there's any writer in the world of fiction capable of portraying the realization dawning on the young boy Jesus just exactly Who He Is, I think Anne Rice has nailed it.

Theologically, this strikes me as a very tricky proposition, not easy to depict without sounding maudlin or falsely sentimental or for that matter heretical (for example, Ernest Renan or D.H. Lawrence or Nikos Kazantzakis). Fiction writers have a hard time depicting a human Jesus unless he's homosexual or married or otherwise conflicted. Albert Schweitzer's classic work, The Quest for the Historical Jesus, describes one 19th century theologian after another who fell into the trap of creating a "Jesus" in their own flawed image.

One way we might measure Anne Rice's achievement is to assess whether she has successfully depicted a human Jesus with a genuinely natural will, but not a gnomic will. Maybe it's easier to understand what St Maximus means by paraphrasing gnomic will as an opinionated will .. Modern men and women are forced to have opinions on nearly every object under the sun, yet St Maximus insists that Jesus didn't have any opinions. Jesus didn't have to deliberate when facing milestones in His life. He simply chose the will of His Father.

Our problem is, we post/moderns can't imagine a truly human Jesus without a gnomic will. Yet it's part of the dogmatic history of the Eastern Orthodox Church which we owe to St Maximus the Confessor when we insist that Jesus Christ possesses two natural wills, one divine and one human, but not a gnomic will.

This dogmatic truth is difficult enough to understand theologically. It may well be impossible to depict in a novel. But I think Anne Rice may have pulled it off. It's a theological paradox (but no less accurate) that the truly free person is not someone who is tormented by dilemmas of choice. Sophie of Sophie's Choice most certainly is not a free person. The truly free person doesn't spend her time wringing her hands in anguish over the multitude of possible choices! Yet we cannot imagine any other version of free will other than a supermarket of choices.

But the Eastern Orthodox dogmatic tradition thinks otherwise. We fall back on having to make difficult choices because we simply don't know what is our highest good. Ignorance begets Vacillation, and Vacillation is the father of Deliberation. Ironically, our inability to choose, the very process of deliberation -- Should I choose A or B? Or maybe C? -- shows us just how unfree we really are. Having a multitude of choices is its own set of problems. We're not as free as we think we are if we have difficulty choosing what is right and good. Quite frankly, it's bizarre to think of sheer choice in and of itself as being Our Highest Good.

In Anne Rice's novel, the young Jesus comes to realize He shouldn't make it snow or stop raining willy-nilly. He understands at an early age that He must only do what the Father wills. Admittedly, this is a very difficult truth to hear and do. Like Jesus, we should seek to give up our opinions and deliberations. Perfect freedom is only in obedience to the will of the Father. All else is slavery to the forces of darkness.

Thanks to John Stamp for permission to post.


Review by 
Jim Delmont, PhD
Omaha City Weekly
Adjunct Faculty in History, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt    by Anne Rice. Knopf. $25.95. 322pp.

I once chided Anne Rice, in a World-Herald review of the movie, “Interview with the Vampire,” that she was wasting her considerable talent on vampire books (18 at the last count) – and now, wonder of wonders, she has done a literary about face, and is doing a series of books on Jesus, books that reflect a renewed Christian commitment on her part.

The change in direction hasn’t hurt financially, as “Christ the Lord,” out just four weeks, is already number seven on the New York Times fiction bestseller list. A 17-page author’s afterward explains the journey back to Christianity by a fallen-away Catholic. The death of her beloved husband, Stan Rice, after 41 years of marriage, had something to do with it. So did her “obsession” with Jesus and the first century events surrounding him. Wading through tons of New Testament scholarship, she rejected the “skeptical” scholars (Jesus Seminar, etc.) and found truth in the works of the brilliant New Testament scholars Paula Fredriksen, Creighton University’s Bruce Malina, and others, including N.T. Wright. After that, “I consecrated myself and my work to Christ.”

This journey is not quite as unusual as it might first appear, for Rice also admits, “Every novel I’ve ever written since 1974 involved historical research.” And she prefaced “The Vampire Armand” with a passage from the Gospel of John (20:17). Previously, in the Vampire Chronicles, she explored the dark side. Now she is entering the realm of light – though her experience on the dark side provides chills when evil is encountered by the young Jesus, as in a dream sequence in Nazareth when he confronts the Prince of Chaos.

Anne Rice set herself a high bar: a novel about Jesus, narrated by the seven-year-old Christ himself, moving from Alexandria, Egypt, to Jerusalem, to Nazareth. Impressively, she brings it off.

Her success here is due to both research and passion. She plunges the reader into a Jewish culture against a Greco-Roman backdrop, painting a vivid historical canvas. Jesus is surrounded at all times by relatives – this clan observes every ritual and is infused with faith based on the Hebrew Bible and reflecting first century Mediterranean folk ways. Historical dialogue is notoriously difficult to write (as I found out when I penned a New Testament play), so she keeps conversations familiar but dignified. No slang here. Nor does she take liberties with Christian scripture. The infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke are scrupulously observed, with some explanatory filler (cousin John the Baptist was deliberately sent as a youth to the Essenes, Mary had been dedicated to the Temple as a child as one of the women who would weave the ever-changing giant veils of that Jerusalem Temple).

She adds that Jesus exercised his powers as a child, drawing on charming stories from apocryphal religious literature, including the tale of Jesus turning clay sparrows into real birds (which also made its way into the Koran in two places, surah 3:49 and surah 5:110). Matthew’s excursion into Egypt (which Matthew modeled on the childhood of Moses – no on else reports it) is rendered literally here, as are the Zoroastrian Magi. When, in Alexandria, the angel tells Joseph, Jesus’ stepfather who has children by a previous marriage, that they should return to Palestine, the narrative begins.

Fancifully, Rice adds that Jesus studied with the great Alexandrian scholar, Philo, and was fluent in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. There is a lot of historical information: sprinkling for the Passover, cleansing in pools, every day food items, burial practices, prayer rituals, the way people dressed, and a skillful weaving in of historical events – including the terrible Temple riots under Herod’s son, Archelaus, to which the young Jesus is an eye-witness. The Romans are humanized and respected, Jewish zealots presented as brutes, ordinary people as pious. Jesus’ clan displays deep religiosity, but keeps scrolls of Homer and Plato, too. The rabbis seem very real, as real as the plastering, cooking, cleaning, illnesses, weaving and other everyday events and habits.

The narrative is simple and to the point: regarding a dead man, it states simply, “No soul in him.” This first volume is a platform, a foundation, for those to follow. There are aspects of myth and fairy tale (the sparrows) and it unlikely that Jesus of Galilee ever visited cosmopolitan Alexandria, much less lived there, but the author of “The Queen of the Damned” has always been a good storyteller and that skill is maintained here, too.

Jesus gradually becomes aware of who he is, helped along by revelations from his step-brother, James, and eventually, reluctantly, from his mother. There are some jolts (Joseph joins a crowd who kill a rapist), but the book remains fresh, original, pious and readable.

A talented and popular writer has turned in a new direction.


Anne Rice Provides An Outstanding Read for both Christians and Non Christians to Learn From

By Fred R. Eichelman, Ed. D. For Point North Outreach

Like many readers, I was familiar with the name Anne Rice through her vampire stories. Then this past Summer we saw a series of great interviews on TV about a wonderful change in this author‚s life. She had rejected Christianity as a young woman and now after a successful career as a novelist has reclaimed her faith in God and Jesus Christ.

Back in the eighties I had reviewed a couple of her books sent me by a local newspaper. While not a fan of vampire stories I was struck by how deeply she researched her background material, equally as much a historian as a novelist. I found her writing very literate with a superb style for narration and dialogue. Now she has turned her attention to the greatest challenge an author can face, to tell the story of our Lord in a factual and convincing way that goes beyond the usual.

Christ The Lord: out Of Egypt is written as told by Jesus during his seventh and eighth years of life. It begins in Alexandria Egy! pt and is told as a child would who seeks to learn about his origin, who He is and why He is here. His parents and relatives seem overly protective and He has to piece together tidbits and hints about where and how He was born. The book chronicles the family returning to Nazareth and visiting Jerusalem. It is a Jerusalem very much in turmoil with rebels opposing King Herod and the Romans.

Ms. Rice goes into a great deal of detail about Israel during the first century, the ceremonies and customs of the Jews at that time, and you get a picture of a people very studied in scripture. The author is faithful to the Four Gospels, supported by her notes at the end and the list of sources used.

Those who have been concerned about the Dan Brown DaVince Code distortions of the life of Christ will find this book a faithful witness that Christ is indeed our Lord.

As a novel the story is riveting and her characterizations are well handled. On a personal note I really appreciated Joseph, Mary‚s husband, who is give the credit as the idea man to have raised the young Jesus. Also a great joy is the whole Christmas story as put together by the young Jesus enabling the reader to visualize the event more clearly than even the most beautiful pageants on stage or film. As before, I found her writing to be excellent in regard to narration and dialogue, even more so now.

This change in the life of Anne Rice has come about at an important time in our history as we need books like this when there are so many forces working against the Christian world and Western civilization.

There is added good news for us as Christ The Lord: Out Of Egypt is just the first of a series and we have more to look forward to from Ms. Rice.

__________ Anne Rice's New Novel Brings the Boy Jesus to Life

"Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" by Anne Rice, Knopf, 322 pages, $25.95

Don't be turned off by the opening scene of Anne Rice's new novel "Christ the Lord."

Seven-year-old Jesus gets so angry at a young bully on the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, that the miscreant falls down dead.

A few pages later, Jesus uses his miraculous power to bring the boy back to life. That sounds very much like one of the apocryphal stories that have been discounted by scholars for portraying a vindictive Jesus inconsistent with the Christ of the Gospels.

But please don't set this book aside because of its bizarre beginning. Rice, author of the best-selling "Interview with the Vampire," has created a very credible and orthodox picture of the boy Jesus that fills many missing pages of Scripture.
In an author's note, Rice tells how all her novels have been steeped in historical research. A fallen-away Catholic who eventually came back to the church, Rice said her decision to write about Jesus grew out of an obsession with the origins of Christianity.

"I wanted to write the life of Jesus Christ. I had known that years ago," she writes. "But now I was ready. I was ready to do violence to my career. I wanted to write the book in the first person. Nothing else mattered.I consecrated the book to Christ."

The result obviously is based on extensive research about the social and political milieu of first-century Palestine and Galilee. The Jesus she creates will appeal to readers from a wide perspective.

Imagine what it would be like to be the son of God, born as a human child and growing up in a loving human family. He must go through the process of questioning and exploring the world around him with the innocence of any child.

So it's perfectly believable that we find the boy Jesus wondering about his origins and destiny, wondering why no one wants to talk about the strange incidents surrounding his birth, such as angels appearing to shepherds and sages from the East following a star. We also can understand why Joseph, whom Jesus knows is not his real father, wants to keep the boy "hidden" until the time is right.

The novel begins with Jesus and his family living in the Street of the Carpenters in Alexandria, a huge, bustling city second only to Rome. They then return to the Holy Land to find themselves in the midst of an insurrection being put down with bloody force by the Roman armies.

They take refuge in their old house in Nazareth, where they become known as the "Egyptian gang," working as carpenters rebuilding the nearby city of Sepphoris that was laid waste in the fighting.

In the midst of all this violence we find Jesus trying to make sense of the cruel world around him while being nurtured by his mother, Mary, Joseph and an extended family of uncles, aunts and cousins.

Mary's attitude of childlike trust, Joseph's caution and practicality and even the rivalry with his half-brother James are all elements that help make Jesus who he is.

One of the most vivid characters in the book is Jesus' uncle Cleopas, known as "the talker," whose opinions about everything from the greediness of the temple money changers to the security provided by the Roman occupation plant seeds of Jesus' future teachings.

Some of the most beautiful scenes are when Jesus is lying in the grass, enjoying the wind, birds and wildflowers, experiencing complete and utter peace.

"I didn't have sense enough to know it, but these moments on the grass under the tree had been the first time in my whole life that I'd ever been alone," Jesus says. It recalls the many times in the Gospels when the adult Jesus prays alone - perhaps recapturing that joy and oneness with the universe he experienced in the meadows of Galilee.

The book concludes with Jesus on the verge of puberty, finally coming to understand his divine purpose.

He realizes he was "born to die" yet also "sent here to be alive- to breathe and sweat and thirst and sometimes cry. And everything that happened to me, everything both great and small, was something I had to learn! There was room for it in the infinite mind of the Lord and I had to seek the lesson in it, no matter how hard it was to find."

It seems inevitable that having created such a vibrant Jesus, Rice won't be able to stop telling his story. I'm already waiting for the sequel.



From Anne:

"Hello Guys, Let me share with you this letter from Fr. Joe Cocucci regarding my new novel. I'm profoundly grateful to have this response from one I so deeply respect. Take care and love, Anne."

20 August 2005

Mrs. Anne Rice
[address redacted] 

Dear Anne,

Now that I’ve had time to digest Christ the Lord I thought I'd share with you some reflections on the book, which I think may be the best you’ve written to date.

What you’ve done in Christ the Lord is nothing short of incredible.  Your synthesis of biblical and extra-biblical scriptures, an extensive knowledge of the historical and geographical landscapes, and a lifetime of reflective wrestling with faith and trying to know the person of Jesus has resulted in an engaging and ambitious narrative.  I’m used to criticizing novels, Anne; I used to write for the now defunctBest Sellers and I’ve taught English literature.  I find little to criticize here; I'm very impressed.

You’ve developed a distinctive ability to speak in other peoples’ voices, and because of this the novel’s dialogues have a real immediacy -- not just in the Jesus who narrates but in each character encountered along the way.  I was especially intrigued by young Joseph Caiaphas, James and Cleopas – they all came to life so vibrantly that I began to daydream about who might play them in a film version!

As to the potential effect of Christ the Lord on readers: those who already know and love Jesus will find images and scenes to feed and deepen their prayer; those who know little of Jesus may be attracted and enticed to draw closer to him; those who do not know him at all or who up to this point have resisted him may find themselves wanting to learn more about him.  No matter where one stands in relationship to Jesus, he or she will not stand in exactly that same space after reading your book.  You’ve actually done some great work for the Kingdom!  I find the possibility of your fan-base becoming more acquainted with Jesus Christ a tremendously good thing, and most likely the reason God gave you such prodigious talent in the first place.

Thank you for giving me the privilege of being part of your journey. I look forward to seeing where we go next!

Sincerely, in Christ the Lord,

Rev. Joseph MPR Cocucci
Director of Priestly and Religious Vocations
Diocese of Wilmington


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