Customer Review

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, bitter, beautiful, January 28, 2011
This review is from: Jesus Came Again (Mass Market Paperback)
I am halfway through the entire "Testament of Man" series by Vardis Fisher. JESUS COMES AGAIN, the seventh novel, was the most controversial of the entire series. The publisher would not accept it and Fisher was stuck until Swallow Publishing came to his rescue. The original publisher, though agreeing with Fisher's anti-religious stand, was concerned of its reaction in the midst of the Cold War.

The novel is subtitled, "A Parable", and Fisher explicitly states that this is NOT Jesus but a tale that could have happened. The Gospels were not biography or history but instead represent a particular interpretation of the Jesus story. The novel resembles the Gospel of Mark in its brevity and focus on a few incidents in the life of a wandering rabbi. The reader first encounters Joshua as he passes two crucified men. Messianic fever has reached an apex amid animal sacrifices, tales of miracles, beliefs in demons, angels, Jewish conflicts and Roman rule. As he walks and talks about love, he gathers followers, mainly women who are drawn for a variety of reasons.

A strong, independent woman is found throughout the series and here it is Sirena, a Greek. When others see miracles, she sees nothing. Where others find prophecy fulfilled, she sees wild extrapolations. She is drawn to Joshua because he does not hate women. He preaches (as in Mark) of a coming kingdom but one in which the Messiah will rule by love with those from the bottom strata of society. In the inexorable march to death, Joshua is questioned by Pilate who reluctantly orders his execution. And although his body still hangs from the cross, some followers claim to have seen him alive. Of couse, word spreads and the legend grows.

Mary, his mother, is an embittered, old woman who strictly follows the ritualistic rule of Law. Joshua, as every Jew would say, believes that works (not salvation) is the key to the kingdom. Fisher artfully shows that though Jews expected a Messiah, none thought he would be a god or a savior, simply a redeemer of their freedom.
My Grade - A
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