Author: Karen Kingsbury
In the Bible, stories are told with such brevity that a person can’t help but wonder about the details. For example, we know so little about Joseph, the man married to the mother of Jesus. There is not one quotation by him in the gospels. It leaves a lot to the imagination.
Karen Kingsbury, New York Times bestselling novelist with over 20 million award-winning copies of her books in print, is up for the challenge. In this beautifully produced book, she has filled in the details and dialogue for scenes from six people who were close to Jesus. The result is biblical fiction at its best.
The first chapter opens with a scenes that shows Joseph distracted from his carpentry work by the wild orchids. He picks a bouquet to take to his fiancée Mary when he goes to visit her at her parents’ house. The orchids become a symbol for his love. Later, after he learns of Mary’s pregnancy and he thinks she has been unfaithful, he “walks past a field of fading orchids.” At the end of the chapter when Joseph is dying, he wishes he could have one more day to pick orchids for Mary. What beautiful story telling!
Reading the chapter sent me straight to the gospels to read again exactly what the Scriptures do and don’t say. Did Mary really disappear without a word to her fiancé Joseph when she traveled a five-day journey to visit Elizabeth? It seems odd and out of character to me, for her to abandon the man she’s in love with, leaving him wondering and worrying for three whole months. But who’s to say? The Bible doesn’t reveal the details. I respect the fact that Karen Kingsbury had her pastor check the stories to make sure there were no contradictions with the Scriptures.
As I read on, other questions arose. Did Mary and Joseph know one another since they were kids? Were they lifelong friends who fell in love? For me, that doesn’t seem as romantic as meeting at the market and feeling the spark of attraction from the first moment their eyes met, with Joseph looking a little too long and inquiring among friends as to who the beauty is, and Mary secretly hoping to run into him again. But who can say how they met and fell in love? Maybe Kingsbury is right, and they were childhood friends.
Other chapters are about Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, James, and Mary.
For each chapter there is a corresponding Bible study with historic facts, Scriptures, and thought-provoking questions. This is my favorite part of the book. This is where I felt like I got to know the real Joseph as the loving husband, stepfather, and follower of God.
I recommend this book for those who enjoy biblical fiction. I am grateful to the publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book in exchange for my candid review.
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