Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book Review: I, Claudia: A Tale of Pontius Pilate by Charity Bishop

I, Claudia: A Tale of Pontius Pilate
I, Claudia: A Tale of Pontius Pilate by Charity Bishop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of biblical fiction since I was a teenager and gulped down every book that Darlene Mindrup ever wrote. But none of the fiction I've read, not then, and not in recent years, can compare to the emotional impact of I, Claudia: A Tale of Pontius Pilate.

This tale follows the life of Claudia, wife of Pilate, from before they were even married. Its historic setting rings true in every respect, and the author does her best to give reasons to Pilate's choices, such as the brutal beatings of the Jews when they rioted against the building of the aqueducts using temple funds in Caesarea. The book paints an intimate picture of a man whose history in the Bible is limited to washing his hands of Jesus' blood despite knowing His innocence.

Charity compels the reader by giving a name to certain Biblical characters who are well known, such as the centurion whose faith in Jesus was so strong he begged Him to heal his servant, knowing the Messiah could perform the miracle from a distance. The lives of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary take on living, vibrant color, as does the merciful face and love of Jesus Christ himself.

Some authors would be tempted to wax melodramatic, overloading their manuscript with prosaic prose. Charity chooses instead to write in the vein of contemporary authors, a choice that allows the book to make sense, to move the reader emotionally. There is no jungle of descriptive prose to hack through, only simplistic style of honesty that makes for a swift and honest read.

I connected with all of the characters. Even the ones I originally hated, I learned to pity. There isn't a single character in I, Claudia that is half-heartedly formed, all of them are individualistic and powerful, the heroine most of all. Expect miracles and supernatural elements in I, Claudia. Expect the moment of Jesus' death to move you beyond reckoning and the day of His resurrection to shake your foundations just as it shook the foundations of the temple and ripped the curtain in two.

This book honestly takes biblical fiction to a new level of honesty and experience. If you too, like me, are a fan of biblical fiction, in other words a Christian, then I, Claudia is right up your alley!

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