BETHLEHEM’S CHILDREN: a sprawling, vivid epic that proves Biblical fiction is going strong.

Posted: February 6, 2021 in Uncategorized

Biblical fiction is, without a doubt, one of, if not my favorite genre. There is something about spending time in the company of Biblical characters, inhabiting the world of so, so long ago, walking with Christ, that I find utterly fascinating. As stated here before, books like THE ROBE, THE BIG FISHERMAN, QUO VADIS, BEN-HUR, etc, have been guides on my walk with Christ.

The latest such novel that I have had the privilege to read is BETHLEHEM’S CHILDREN, an epic saga of faith, family, fanaticism and, most of all, forgiveness, penned by pastor John Indermark, who was gracious enough to send me a signed copy of his work.

This is a hefty tome, clocking in at 650 pages. But it is probably the most rewarding work of Biblical fiction that I have read this year.

Every great novel starts from a question. And the question in this one is „What happened to the families of the children who were slain by order of Herod the Great on the fateful night of the Massacre of Innocents?”

The sprawling nature of the novel allows the author to flesh out the characters, and their motivations, to put a great deal of spiritually nourishing „meat” upon the bones of the Greatest Story Ever Told. For the book does follow the entire life of Christ, from just after birth to the Resurrection, and it does so in a gripping, heartfelt manner.

The one thing I appreciated the most about this amazing book is the fact that although it is firmly grounded into Scripture, this is no Sunday-school-style retelling of The Greatest Story Ever Told. This is a story that does not shy away from the brutality of the times it depicts. And I love how the characters are so deeply human. These are people who have seen their children being slaughtered.

An important aspect of Biblical fiction is the fact that everyone knows the basic elements of the stoy of Christ, whatever they believe in. To bring a new perspective about, the author has to use their imagination and create interesting links between characters. And Mr. Indermark shines at this. The story of Barabbas, his entire character arc, is so, so well done. And how he actually gets his name, Yeshua Barabbas, is something that will blow your mind.

In its essence, this is a story about familial bonds, and all the intense emotions they encompass. In this regard, I loved the story of Simeon, a son so disillusioned with the cowardice of his father in the aftermath of losing his baby, that he joins the Romans.

Of course, in any novel about Christ, He is the central element. And this, in my view, is the crowning achievement of BETHLEHEM’S CHILDREN. Mr. Indermark has chosen to portray Jesus in a manner that is quite close to how I view Him: very gentle, yet firm in His authority. This Jesus sees the remembrance of the Massacre of Innocents as a duty of honor. When He summons the children to come to Him he does so while sternly reprimanding the Apostles for wanting to send them away. In driving the merchants from the Temple, He is a picture of righteous indignation that will uplift the hearts of believers who see Him as a peaceful revolutionary. He shows that love and forgiveness can and should sometimes go hand in hand with chastisement.

Judas, here, is a complex and conflicted figure, while nevertheless not turning into some sort of anti-hero: he has a very to-the-point meaning in mind for Jesus and His message, and when he cannot see that meaning come true, the end is the bitterly familiar one.

Speaking of the end, I will say this: if I were to pick one reason for which readers should feast upon this labor of love, apart from the above-mentioned one, it is the ending. If you are faithful, you will be on your knees, thanking Jesus. And I guarantee it. It happened to me.

Ten stars out of five, for the gritty, glorious, God-inspired masterpiece that is BETHLEHEM’S CHILDREN.

Though Mr. Indermark was kind enough to provide me with a copy of his work for review purposes, I would not be doing justice to this amazing, potentially life-changing book if the views expressed herein were not my own!

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