This is the first book in the series in which I have felt a little disappointed. First of all, it tries to make a novel of one snippet of Jesus’ childhood–his being accidentally left behind in Jerusalem during Passover at the age of twelve.
As always, the Thoene’s meticulous historical research leaves nothing to be desired in the way of detail. Their delving into Scripture, and using story to bring the Old Testament messianic prophesies to life is a refreshing approach in Christian fiction. As usual, I really enjoyed the way the Thoene’s are able to insert me into the story in such a way that the sights, smells, sounds, and circumstances of 1st century Jerusalem are almost tangible. (Aside from an inordinate amount of middle-eastern people with fair skin…)
My main criticism has gradually come to the forefront. I suspected in some of the earlier books in the series, especially the ones concerned with Mary & Joseph, and the story of Jesus’ birth, that the Thoene’s lean heavily in favor of the Catholic theology that Mary remained a virgin for the rest of her life after her first son’s supernatural birth. Since this is a book review, and not a theology lesson, I will simply state that there is no evidence in Scripture that Mary and Joseph had no more children. In fact, there is clear evidence to the contrary. In an otherwise immaculately correct work of fiction, this is a glaring disappointment to me.
This book uses a side story of a couple of orphaned children to explain in a more roundabout way that Mary & Joseph adopted the other children mentioned in Scripture. This feels quite a bit like reaching a little bit too far for a more complicated explanation than the Bible gives us.
My final criticism is that this book is far too short. It ends abruptly, and rather unsatisfactorily. I feel as though more and more pages are being devoted to the accompanying study questions, rather than just telling the story and letting it speak for itself. Personally, I’d rather read and enjoy a story than answer a bajillion questions that could easily be posted in downloadable content online for those interested in using these books for further study or homeschooling.
I want to give this book more stars, but I can’t in all honesty. I’m bummed, because of how much I’ve enjoyed the rest of the series.