Sunday, 23 March 2008


AUTHOR: Jim Crace


DATE READ: March 2008

NOTES: Four people enter the wilderness in Judea to take part in time of fasting and prayer – Aphas, an old Jew with a cancerous growth, Marta, an infertile woman, Shim, a Greek seeking enlightenment and a primitive wild man from a far-off tribe. Hardly noticed by them is a young Galilean – Jesus.

Already nearby are the despicable merchant Musa and his gentle wife Miri. Musa has been left to die from the fever by the rest of his family and Miri is secretly glad that she will be rid of such a cruel husband. But Musa has a half waking dream that the Galilean enters his tent and touches him and when he awakes he realises that he will not die and is well enough to get up. Jesus has nothing more to do with the others but his presence is felt by all of them.

Crace evokes an amazing picture of this disparate group of people surviving in the desert two thousand years ago. He doesn’t attempt to offer us any rational explanations as to how Jesus survived (or not) in the desert. But through the other character we are able to see how the cult of Jesus was able to arise through story-telling.

Musa was such a brute that he deserved a long and suffering end (whoops, a very un-Christian thought!) Although this doesn’t happen the ending us positive and uplifting.

A beautifully crafted book.

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