AUTHOR AND EDITOR
Joseph has a vision for his family and nation. And as a successful trader and merchant, he might just have amassed a large enough fortune to bring it to reality. Though he has built his home and business in Sepphoris, the most beautiful city in Galilee, all his hopes rest on his firstborn son, James, who is studying for the priesthood far south in Roman-occupied Jerusalem. Important people say James may grow up to be the Righteous One, who would restore Israel to God’s favor.
Joseph has charged his other children to support James in the family’s quest. Second-born Jesus, however, is a troublemaker. Third son Judas, who looks so much like Jesus that he is nicknamed Thomas (the Twin), stutters terribly and follows meekly in Jesus’s shadow. Fourth son Simon has difficulty learning and suffers bullying at the hands of rough boys who work in the fields. Their sisters Joanna and Susanna seem built in the mold of their mother, Miriam, who is the dominant force that maintains discipline in the family.
Second Born finds a plausible middle ground between the Gospel stories of the New Testament and scholars’ search for the “historic Jesus.” It follows him and his brothers from preteens to adulthood as they each grow into and come to accept their separate roles in the family’s quest to restore dignity to Roman-occupied Israel.
Why do the Gospels tell us that Jesus shunned his family? Second Born’s answers to that question may change a reader’s perception of Christianity and make it easier to maintain the faith.
What Patrick Andersen does in Second Born is to take a different look at the Biblical Gospels and dramatize each story by giving it a more practical feel. It is like reengineering the whole stories, most of which were written generations after the Crucifixion.
The book offers a fresh take on all the stories about Jesus we listened to in school. The language is simple and conversational, and the setting is completely realistic. Jesus' portrayal as a light-hearted, kind boy with a gentle soul and twinkling sense of humour just made me smile. It was so refreshing, so different and absolutely delightful! The characters are brilliantly written and I took a liking to every single one, right from Joseph and Miriam to all their children.
Jesus is usually seen as "a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3)." "Jesus wept (John 11:35)" — the shortest verse in the Bible in many translations — is often quoted. In Patrick Andersen's book we meet a different Jesus, someone endowed with lightness of spirit and irrepressible humor, someone who often laughs. This isn't the only surprise that awaits the reader. First we encounter the provocative title. Then we meet Jesus' feisty though loving mother and sisters. These characters are strong both physically and morally. Add to the mix some lively dialogue in the modern idiom. Now you are ready to embark on an imaginative but plausible narrative of Jesus' early years from pre-teen to maturity and the people with whom he shares