Thursday, April 4, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: JUDICIUM



Judicium is a Latin word meaning "legal investigation" or "judicial inquiry" into an incident. One such incident happened around the year 33 AD in the ancient city of Jerusalem when the body of a carpenter's son from Nazareth disappeared three days after He was executed by crucifixion. Because Roman law declared the bodies of those crucified to be Roman property, there was an investigation —a Judicium—into this apparent theft and the strange circumstances surrounding it. Did Jesus’ followers steal the body of their master, or did Caiaphas, High Priest of the Sanhedrin do so to implicate them? If so, why unwrap the body, leaving the shroud and ropes as evidence? Or, as Mary Magdalene fervently attests, did Jesus himself rise from the dead and exit the tomb? The prophecy that Jesus would rise from the dead after three days has come true, but by what means? The novel follows the investigator from Rome as he questions suspects, looks into motives, and runs down leads until the truth is finally revealed to him at the village of Bethany.

Peace in Judea in 33 AD was a fragile accord, held together by the strength of Rome (the ultimate enemy) and politically motivated clandestine agreements and machinations. Jerusalem simmers with burning resentments, ready for an explosion into civil war. The disappearance of the body of the man who so unsettled established rule could be the fuse that sets off a clash between two mighty forces: Rome and Judea. The significance of Jesus’s body cannot be underestimated for people of the time, and for Christians thereafter. The validity of Jesus’s claims about Himself rests on the Resurrection—did He rise from the dead (proving his divinity) or was his body was stolen?

Gerald Hess has created a fascinating read in this thrilling combination of historical and detective novel. The author weaves a detailed tapestry of the politics and religious hatreds stemming from various antagonistic factions, and his deft and unique handling of the topic breathes new life into an ancient story. Faith, religion, and redemption are highlighted as various players are drawn into the tangle of facts and rumours. Included are interesting details that flesh out the era without impeding the story. Both major and minor characters and their various concerns are well drawn and believable. I particularly enjoyed the investigator’s methods of detection. A minutely researched book, with an excellent plot that unfolds with nail-biting intensity. Highly recommended. Five stars.
First reviewed for Readers Favorite
Paperback: 388 pages Publisher: Tate Publishing (January 29, 2013)  ISBN-13: 978-1620248041
Genre: historical, Christian, detective

by Fiona Ingram
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