About the Book
Stories Behind the Stories. Peer into the lives of four people from the village of Bethany—a harlot, a mistress, a beggar, and a leper—as their worlds interweave and collide. Throughout similar circumstances, they each have unique and personal encounters with Jesus. Along the way, they learn what it means to experience authentic relationships, genuine community, and true faith.
These emotionally charged stories reveal people who struggle with the same kinds of life issues that we all encounter today—feelings of loneliness, guilt, inadequacy, betrayal, and despair. Yet their interactions with Jesus bring profound changes to the way that they view their world, each other, and themselves.
These four tales use the creative gift of imagination to explore what each of these men and women might have been thinking and feeling, while remaining true to the biblical accounts and consistent with life in first century Israel. So come on a journey that will challenge you, inspire you, and like these characters from Bethany, leave you forever changed.
Believe it or not, this is the first biblical fiction novel I’ve read (not counting Redeeming Love). It was pleasant enough. My favorite thing about this book was the way it fleshed the characters out for modern audiences. Sometimes it can be difficult to picture biblical settings and easy to forget that the people of that time weren’t as different from you and I as we might think.
In The Bethany Tales, the characters struggle with sickness, death, faith, loss, responsibility, grief, guilt, past memories, and even personal image and judgemental neighbors. These are struggles that people still struggle with today in everyday life, and this novel helps teach us that Jesus understands our struggles in the same way He understood the struggles of people 2,000 years ago.
I was a little disappointed that The Bethany Tales repeated the mostly same events four times over. To me, the perspectives weren’t immersive enough to justify the four point of views (them being Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Simon). This did probably push the book from the length of a novella (or even of a short story) to the length of a short novel, but much of what was shown directly through the latter perspectives (especially Simon’s) could’ve already been guessed indirectly through the other points of view. Still, “seeing” Lazarus’s death and restoration through his own eyes was something special.
I don’t want to sound too negative, but another disappointment was that Jesus’ death and resurrection felt underwhelming and anticlimactic and lacked the profoundness that one would expect from such an event. The characters also burst into tears a lot, which felt overly dramatic.
This was a quick read, and I hope I didn’t critique it too much. I would say it’s a good book for “beginners” (like me!) in the genre of biblical fiction.
Please note that I received an audio copy of this book via Booksprout. All thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own, and I was not required to leave a positive review.