Yesterday, I finished reading The Silent Years, a gripping novel about the life of Jesus, by Alan W. C. Green. Normally, I don't get into imaginative fictional accounts with a biblical setting. I like to let the Bible be the Bible -- and fiction be fiction.
Nevertheless, when this book came unexpectedly in the mail, I thought I'd give it the three chapter test. If I wasn't hooked after three chapters, I'd quit reading and pass the book along to someone else. I really don't feel an obligation to any author to finish a book. It's the author's job to keep me wanting to continue.
The Silent Years drew me in. This fictional narrative about Jesus, told from the perspective of his uncle, gave me fresh insights into the life of Christ I'd not previously considered. It also opened up my spiritual understanding on a couple of significant issues.
In this book, the humanity of Jesus is emphasized, and his deity is downplayed. The author certainly does not deny Christ's divinity, and as the chapters progress, we see a growing awareness of it. However, if I had written the book, I wouldn't have gone so far as the author in portraying the human side of Jesus.
For instance, there's a cloud of suspicion surrounding Christ's birth. Now, remembering that this is a work of fiction, I just assume it to be the uncle's suspicion and not the author's.
A place that made me uncomfortable was when Jesus felt that he had sinned, and needed to repent. As an evangelical pastor, I believe that Jesus lived a sinless life.
At times, early in the book, Jesus seems confused about his identiy and mission. Again, I believe he knew exactly who he was, even as a child, and that his mission was crystal clear all along.
Nevertheless I deeply appreciate Dr. Green's effort at portraying Jesus in rich personality -- How he may have experienced heartache, joy, disappointment, friendship, misunderstanding, and the like. I've never reflected on my Savior's personality so deeply as I did while reading this book.