The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury offers a brand new idea- the idea of Biblical Christian fiction paired up with a bible study section to bring together a brand new experience for her readers. This concept is a good one I think, as I know personally when I read good Biblical fiction, it sends me running to my Bible to see if what the writer’s imagination has come up with is “plausible” in terms of matching up with what the Bible says about that particular person in the scripture. This is exactly what Karen Kingsbury set out to do by using Bible scholars to help her in terms of running these stories by them to see if they could be possible. And so, while we do get a look at the relatives of Jesus in a brand new way with the lovely help of Karen Kingsbury, it is refreshing then to spend some time at the back of the book as she provides 5 days of actual study into the character that she wrote about. And in the end, just as she hoped by taking this journey in learning about the “family of Jesus”, it helps you to love Jesus that much more.
The book opens with the story of Joseph, described as the protective stepfather and what his journey might have been like, his relationship with Mary, etc. We then move to Zechariah, the knowing Uncle, John the Baptist, the chosen cousin, Elizabeth, the faithful aunt, James, the doubting brother and of course ends, with Mary, the loving Mother. In usual Karen Kingsbury style, the reader can’t help but engage with the characters and be moved as you witness the great love shown in the relationships such as in Mary and Joseph’s relationship at the onset in hearing that Mary is pregnant. You see great faith in the impossible in Elizabeth’s life and heart as the impossible came to pass and great sacrifice in the life of John the Baptist as his whole life was preparing for Jesus and then dying as well. And as a mother, my heart was moved, of course, by Mary’s story, a mother just wanting to save her son, but helpless to do so. Love, sacrifice, and faith and of course the tears were flowing- grab your Kleenex box as you fully engage with this story. I greatly enjoyed the journey.
As always when you are reading something like this where there is a fictional component, it’s wise to keep the two separate in terms of what we know scripturally versus what can be possible. But I think the beauty and value in this is remembering that they were real people with real emotions, struggles and joys and heartbreak. In taking this journey, it helps to bring these character’s alive in a new and precious way. I am glad that I took this journey and hope that you take it as well, and fully engage in both parts- the story section on the character as well as the bible study section as it makes for a very moving experience and one that makes you dig into these character’s lives through the Bible as well.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.