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Risen: The Novelization of the Major Motion Picture Paperback – December 29, 2015
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From the Back Cover
The Story of the Resurrection as You've Never Seen It Before
Epic in scope, yet deeply personal, this novelization offers a unique perspective on the story of the resurrection. Roman Tribune Clavius is assigned by Pilate to keep the radical followers of the recently executed Yeshua from stealing the body and inciting revolution. When the body goes missing despite his precautions, Clavius must hunt it down.
His investigation leads him from the halls of Herod Antipas to the Garden of Gethsemane and brings him in touch with believer and doubter alike. But as the body still remains missing, Clavius commits to a quest for the truth--and answers that will not only shake his life but echo throughout all of history.
About the Author
The author of more than 100 published books and with nearly 5 million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Times bestselling author of The Note, The Nativity Story, and Esther: Royal Beauty. Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, Angela completed her PhD in Biblical Studies in Theology. She and her husband live in Florida with their mastiffs. Learn more at www.angelahuntbooks.com.
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This also means that artistic license will be used. Author Angela Hunt does a great job of weaving the biblical events surrounding Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection into this retelling. Clavius (played by Joseph Fiennes in the film) is an ambitious soldier, and early on he puts down a Zealot revolt led by Barabbas, the infamous thief and murderer Pilate released at the crowd's request instead of Jesus. Later that day, Clavius is sent by Pilate to make sure the three people crucified that day were killed before sunset so as to not upset Jewish sensitivities. When he arrives, it is clear that the man in the middle, Jesus (called Yeshua in the novel), is already dead. Clavius orders a soldier to pierce Jesus to make sure.
Two days later, Clavius is summoned by Pilate and told that the Jewish leaders claim the man's disciples had stolen the body of Jesus and are declaring that Jesus has risen from the dead. Clavius and his new assistant, a beneficiarii named Lucius (played by Tom Felton in the film), embark on an investigation that takes them in and around Jerusalem over the next several days interviewing witnesses and tracking down the disciples.
I really enjoyed many of the tie-ins Hunt made with historical figures. Readers will likely be fascinated by the connection she makes between Matthew 27:52-53 with a couple of individuals we are introduced to in Luke 2. The discovery of Christ's betrayer also gives some helpful insights into what might have happened after Judas hanged himself.
I noticed a few points where the story does not get the biblical account exactly right, so I was thankful to see that Hunt acknowledged a couple of these in her "Author's Note" section at the end of the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It certainly added to my interest in the movie. I would recommend it for Christians and non-Christians alike, teenagers on up. Parents should know that Rachel and Clavius are involved in an affair for part of the book. The author handles the intimate moments carefully, but it still may be more than what some parents are comfortable allowing their kids to read.
Risen is a good introduction to handful of apologetic arguments on the Resurrection. As a novel, it could not be the most comprehensive study on the subject without getting bogged down in details and exposition. Unbelievers should not assume that Christianity's full defense of the Resurrection is on display here.
My full (non-spoiler) review can be found here: http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=1525
The first surprise was the addition of Jewish protagonist, Rachel, who as the author explains in an endnote, "is a creation of Paul Aiello, the screenwriter, but her role had to be cut from the movie due to time constraints" (see Kindle Location 3134). Rachel drives the story forward in interesting ways that the movie lacks - such as explaining events and providing context from the Jewish perspective. Further, she adds an additional subplot to the story via her romantic relationship with Clavius the male leader in the novel (the Roman Tribune played by Joseph Fiennes in the movie). The prudish among us may be offended by their extra-marital affair (a reason why this novel is probably not appropriate for young people) but it serves a purpose in the end - a plot twist which isn't in the movie (and I'll say no more on that point). In addition to giving us a Jewish point of view and education, Rachel adds heightened intrigue, tension, and poignancy to the story that's lacking in the film. And, most surprising of all, she also adds additional dimension and depth to the Clavius character. I understand WHY she was cut from the movie but it sure is a pity!
Also enlightening was the ability to really get into the head of Clavius to gain a depth of understanding of his thoughts, feelings, and motivation to a degree that is virtually impossible in a screenplay. For example, the book includes Clavius' back story - which is both interesting and explains a few of those puzzling, "What drove him to do that?" moments in the movie. In addition, the extended narrative allows the author to provide the type of interspersed historical context that would be difficult to provide in a film without turning it from entertainment to documentary.
To all those points, and for the sake of brevity, I'll just say that what the same is true for each and every character in the story - especially Christ and the disciples. The characters in the movie are a puddle compared to the deep river of complex and interesting personalities in the book. Other reviewers have complained that the book lacked the visual punch of the film, and to some degree, I agree. That said, the emotional punch of the book is far more pronounced. For example, through the final chapters of the book, I was often in tears - not so during the final moments of the movie. Given that, I recommend watching the movie first to get the "broad-brush version", then read the novel to get the full and complete story.
Given all that, I must end this review with two groaners of tired cliches': If you have to choose between the film or the book choose both, and; the book really IS better than the movie. Regardless, and either way, I suspect that you will love "Risen" in what form you experience it.
(This review is a review of the audio edition, however, I was so taken with it that I also purchased the Kindle edition so I could reference the text for my personal study and consumption)
APPENDIX: THE ONE BIG GLARING THEOLOGICAL ERROR IN THIS BOOK
For my fellow theology geek friends, there is a glaring - but important - theological error in this book. Let's see if you can spot it in this passage:
'[Clavius speaking] “How can you say ‘Yahweh is one God’ when we know He has a Son?” Peter looked at me as if he’d like to wrap his big hands around my neck and squeeze. “The mind cannot fathom certain mysteries,” he said, “but the Shema says ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.’ In other words, our God is one.”
“The word is echad. It means He is one in nature, not one being.”'
(Hunt, Angela, Risen: The Novelization of the Major Motion Picture (Kindle Locations 3022-3025). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition)
The answer? God IS one BEING consisting of three Persons. Ms. Hunt's statement is simply wrong. From Jame White's classic book, "The Forgotten Trinity":
"Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and co-eternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
(White, James R., The Forgotten Trinity (p. 26). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition)
This was a stunning mistake for the author (who has a Th.D. in Theology and is a Baptist Pastor's wife) to make, but she did. I was so stunned that I even rewound and relistened to the audiobook dialog to make sure that I hadn't misheard it. I hadn't.
Streaming Video Risen
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Written By: Angela Elwell Hunt
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Recommended Ages: 13 & up for sexual references (not blatant, just implied) and violence...Read more