Book Review: Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt (Anne Rice)

Like I said before, reading the 17-page Author’s Note at the end of Anne Rice’s new novel, it becomes clear that Anne and Jesus have had a head-on collision and she is still reeling. Reading the rest of the book, it becomes clear that she is reeling with love.

Not since Norman Mailer’s 1997 (bizarre yet oddly compelling) The Gospel According to the Son has a novelist of such stature attempted to write a work of fiction about Jesus, narrated by the Son himself. In Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt, a very young Jesus recounts the events Rice imagines might have taken place in his seventh year.

Over the course of that year, Jesus and his family make the journey out of Egypt and back to Nazareth. Jesus doesn’t live only with Mary and Joseph; in this account, he has a vast crowd of kin, including uncles, aunts, cousins, and his stepbrother, James. (Rice is Catholic, after all! — the perpetual virginity of The Holy Mother is a given.) The warmth and affection with which the boy narrator portrays his huge—and very Jewish—clan plants him firmly in his humanness. He is part of something extraordinarily human: a family…different personalities, old conflicts, everyday struggles, and fierce loyalty.

But Jesus is not solely human. There is something different about him, and he knows it. The mystery of Out of Egypt is one of identity…Jesus feels driven to answer the ancient question of all humanity: Who am I?

Though she can only guess at the events between Jesus’ birth and the start of his ministry, through extensive research — over three years studying a broad and deep cross-section of anthropologists, archeologists, and New Testament theologians and historians — Rice builds a convincing scenario of his early years that takes its cues from the character of Christ painted in the Gospels. While the writing style may feel choppy and overly-vulnerable at first, Rice’s raw, spare prose (a departure from her usual lush writing) creates a voice for the Son at seven years old that sounds very like the Man he will become. Highly recommended.

[Note: This is an extended version of a review that will appear in the Feb/March issue of Relevant Magazine.]

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt (Anne Rice)

  1. aly hawkins Post author

    You’ll have to wait for Ash to finish. And considering he reads up to 10 books at a time…good luck.

  2. aly hawkins Post author

    And thanks for the props – though I didn’t post the note for congratulations…I’m just covering my hindquarters for any copyright issues!

  3. Morphea

    This’ll be interesting to read – I’ve read pretty much everything she’s published. The controversy surrounding her last vampire novel “Blood Canticle” – I haven’t read it yet, but I think the Vampire Lestat gets…saved, or something – which showcases her suddenly optimistic view of god (which a lot of her hard-core fans bloody HATED) makes me even more interested in reading her new stuff.

  4. michael lee

    I finally picked up a copy of this book, in an airport of all places, on my way up to Seattle. Your review is right on – I went into the book a little guarded, with my agendar (get it? agenda radar?) turned up to 11.

    It’s a great book. The characters are well-drawn, the narrative is compelling, and it’s just a good read.

    I was talking with Pastor Doug about it after the fact, and he found it interesting how strongly the catholic Mariology figures into the character of Mary that Rice constructed. She seems almost transcendent in relationship to the rest of the family. There;s also some interesting reworking of the family lines to preserve the perpetual virginity.

  5. Morphea

    ‘On your way up to Seattle’? When are all these Seattle trips you take that I never see you? I’m gonna get my back up one of these days about it, see if I don’t.

    Cerise

  6. michael lee

    Cerise, I would totally love to hang out with you in Seattle, but for some reason my parole officer doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Something about “associating with degenerates”?

  7. Gretchen

    So 6 months later, and I finally read this too. I loved it. I was drawn by Rice’s description of Jerusalem and Nazareth. I loved the character she built out of Joseph. I was reminded more vividly of Jesus as a human, not just God, and how confusing it must have been for him as a child. Rice quoted scripture beautifully in her writings and dialog without it feeling forced or pushed.

    Great recommendation. Glad Mike eventually bought his own copy, so that it was laying around the house ;)

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