I have recently finished reading two books by Anne Rice one the early life of Jesus. The recommendation to read them came out of a conversation I had about how I had encountered the humanity of Jesus in a new way when I was in Israel. There I felt closer than ever before to the human Jesus, being in the places where he lived, walking the streets he walked on and experiencing the sites and sounds of the environment where he grew up, lived and ministered.
The books are fiction, but well researched fiction. They paint a good picture of life in First Century Israel and the joys, stresses and struggles of that society. They also struggle to find answers to questions we may not have considered before. What was it like for Jesus growing up as a sinless child, never losing his temper or doing something wrong? How did others view him, what nicknames did they have for him, how did he interact with his peers at the age of 7, 12 or his teenage years?
The author also asks questions of how Jesus dealt with his sexuality as a man. Did he ever ‘fall in love’ and how did he cope? We know he never married and never sinned, but how did he deal with and respond to the God given and naturally human attraction towards the opposite sex?
However the most difficult and maybe controversial question is when and how did Jesus become aware of his divinity and relationship with his Father? Luke 2:52 is an intreaging verse “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” At what age did Jesus become aware that he was different to everyone else and how did he know? Jesus was at all times fully human and fully divine, man and God, in one person. He didn’t become God, he was God, but at the same time he didn’t stop being human, he was a man. From the very instant of his conception Jesus was fully and totally God and fully and totally human. He was aware of his humanity from the moment of his birth, but how did he become aware of his divinity?
Along with this question Anne Rice interweaves questions I had never thought of. When and how, for instance, did his mother tell him of the events surrounding his conception and birth? More poignantly when did his family tell him of the events in Bethlehem after they fled for Egypt, and how did Jesu react knowing that other children were slaughtered and he was saved?
All of these are questions of Jesus’ humanity and I found the books really helpful in relating to the man Christ Jesus. The historical and cultural background in the book is excellent and well researched. However these are still fiction novels and there are events depicted that i wouldn’t agree with. Read them for yourself and let me know what you think.