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Lazarus is dead!

July 17, 2015

Richard Beard is an author of whom I had never heard. He has been praised in the British press as one of the most ingenious, resourceful and entertaining novelists in England, and has written four previous novels and three works of nonfiction. His book I came across in Eketahuna is called “Lazarus is dead”.

Everyone, I imagine, has heard of Lazarus, forever linked with Jesus who miraculously brought him back from the dead according to the Gospel of John, chapters 11 and 12. He appears nowhere else in the New Testament unless Jesus is referring to him in a parable told in Luke chapter 16. The story John tells is of a ‘certain man named Lazarus of Bethany’ who was a bachelor living with his sisters Mary and Martha, and a friend to Jesus. He fell very sick indeed so his sisters to sent messages to Jesus asking him to come. By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and in his tomb, four days. On arriving and meeting Mary, he saw her weeping and he wept too. They removed the stone blocking the tomb and Jesus shouted “Lazarus, come forth.” And he emerged. This miracle sealed the fate of Jesus. The Sanhedrin or Council of High Priests now determined to plot His death.

“Lazarus is dead” is a fuller and fictional version of this episode. It is inventive, clever and plausible. He uses all the known facts but imaginatively details a great many more that are not inconsistent with what we know of John’s Gospel.

For those fascinated by the accounts of Jesus Christ given in the New Testament and are not affronted by a careful and sincere attempt to fill out the possibilities, this book will be a thoughtful and well-constructed entertainment. So much is not said and so many speculations may arise from the four Gospels it is no wonder writers are attracted to such stories as that of Lazarus.

This much we know – that Jesus performed the miracle before a number of witnesses, that Lazarus, who died , rose again; that Jesus died and rose again a week later and that Chief Priests plotted to kill Lazarus as well. But he disappears from the story at this point and we can only wonder what became of him. Or you can read this book and find out!

– Larry


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