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The Redemption of Pontius Pilate Paperback – May 14, 2015
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This book made me feel like I was right there with them. This is the second of his books I have read and I will definitely read more Ben Lewis Smith!
Using modern-day English that captures the perfect "tone" of ancient speech, this psycho-historical epic deftly tells the story of one of the world’s most (unjustly?) reviled men, humanizing him and showing us his motivations, thoughts, outlook and perspective, giving us a figure who is at times vengefully cruel, at others loving, frequently proud, but ultimately admirable in his handling of the most difficult posting a Roman governor might be given: the boiling pot of Judea.
And exactly how did the high-born, accomplished scion of a noble family come to merit such an undignified assignment? While we cannot know for certain why the historic Pilate found himself there, Lewis Smith's speculation may not be far off the mark, and I can tell you there are occasions in the tale when one positively cheers for Pilate, the time immediately before his departure for Jerusalem definitely being one of them. Truly, this Pontius Pilate is anything but a stick-figure villain, which makes his millennia-long infamy seem all the more tragic, and so it is that, in a bold slight of hand, when author Lewis Smith goes on in the latter part of the story to detail the complex causes that bring about Pontius Pilate's (no surprise, see the title) redemption, it is a feat of such brilliance that it seems entirely plausible.
While it is easy to dub this flowing novel a “religious work” in truth it is also one of the finest jaunts into ancient Rome that's been written in this century. Partly a descriptive tour of ancient places (with a scholarly glossary of contemporary Latin terms included!) and part testament to the power of redemption Christ offered to even the most bloodstained among us, this is a book that stands not only as a creative examination of the man who condemned Jesus, but as a revealing character study of a cast of hundreds, and of the first-century Roman Empire in all its brutal glory. In these pages a reader will dine with the highborn and the commoner, march with Imperial legions and sail the Mediterranean, know the confidences of emperors and hear the words of prophets and preachers. In its chapters await saints and sinners, the worldly and the visionary alike, and lying like gems waiting to be discovered are the touching background stories of some of the most famous events in all of human civilization.
Why was Salome able to beguile Herod with a frantic dance? What sort of man was Caiaphas in his private life? How did the brutal Zealot bandit Bar Abbas elude Romans for so long? And what was it like to be there the day Jesus was sent to the cross? Read The Redemption of Pontius Pilate and you may well be left feeling like you know all of these things!
Whether you come to The Redemption of Pontus Pilate seeking good contemporary Christian fiction, or are a lover of history fond of Roman times, you will find much to delight you in this well-written, fast-paced, masterfully-told story of the life and era of a man whose central tragedy lay in the staggeringly tough decisions he was compelled to make.
Absolutely a five-star read!
Honestly, this book kind of propelled my interest in historical fiction! I was enthralled from the first page to the last and the ending was soooo well-written and satisfying. If you give this book a chance, I really think it will hook you, real you in, and take you to dinner. (That is NOT how that metaphor is supposed to go, is it? Oh well...)
I just love the way Lewis looks at stories we may think we know in such a unique and suspenseful way. Also, I love the formats in the book, such as the letters. Very creative!
Top international reviews
Lewis Ben Smith has the talent as a storyteller to depict this fascinating place and time in an engaging way, and the historical knowledge to make his depiction convincing. His Pilate is at the centre of Roman politics for years - a trusted friend of the emperor Tiberius - until a life-changing incident leads to his banishment, in effect, to the uninviting province of Judea.
This very human Pilate has to balance his own conscience against his duty to Rome and to his family, and also cope with the vicious streak in his personality that has served him well in the context of the militaristic culture of the Romans.
I found this book an absorbing read. Although I've written a book on Pilate myself - 'What Do We Know About Pontius Pilate?', published by the Langley Press and available for Kindle, it made me think again about this puzzling figure.