I really wanted to love this novel. Biblical fiction from the point of view of Lazarus?! I wanted to read it! This story has always fascinated me. I'll borrow a quote from Rick James and add:
What we share in common as believers, we also share with Lazarus: We were all raised from the dead. The resurrection of our own salvation was no less staggering--indeed more so--than the physical raising of Lazarus. (A Million Ways To Die, Rick James, 99)The biblical account of Lazarus can be found in John 11:1-43 and John 12:1-9. More about Martha and Mary can be found in Luke 10:38-42.
Unfortunately, almost everything I loved about the biblical account is absent from this novel. True, it is narrated from Lazarus' perspective and not either of his sisters. So instead of getting the wonderful ministry of Jesus to the two sisters, we get a glimpse of Lazarus in heaven (but not the way Carman imagined it to be).
The biggest issue I had with this novel was the fact that the authors condensed three different women into one. Mary wasn't just Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus; she also was forced into the role of Mary of Magdala AND the unidentified adulterous woman in John 8:1-11. Almost half the novel focused on Martha and Lazarus being judgmental and ashamed of their sister, Mary. I felt they slandered Mary needlessly.
If the novel has a strength, it is in showing the politics and dangers of daily life. What was it like to live on a day-to-day or season-to-season basis during this time period. What were the actual expectations--if any--that ordinary people had for the coming Messiah? How did people perceive Jesus? Was it easy or hard to believe in Jesus' message? Personally, I felt Iscariot by Tosca Lee did a better job than When Jesus Wept in showing this.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible