My mom has an entire shelf of Brock and Bodie Thoene books. Through my teens, I devoured those books, learning World War II history from their Zion Chronicles series. Then I moved on to other books, and it’s been years since I’ve seen a Thoene book. Recently, the Thoenes released When Jesus Wept, the first book in their new Jerusalem Chronicles series.
This book was provided for review courtesy of the publisher; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
When Jesus Wept Plot Summary
When Jesus Wept takes us back to first-century Israel, into the life of the famous Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. When we meet Lazarus, he is mourning the death of his wife and baby son. His best friend Judah tells him about the new preacher John the Baptist as a way to distract Lazarus from his grief.
Together, the two friends go to hear John preach and see him baptize Jesus. Lazarus is still skeptical, but as he continues to hear Jesus’ teachings and to witness Jesus’ miracles, he slowly becomes one of Jesus’ closest friends.
My Thoughts on When Jesus Wept
I loved the way the Thoenes brought Lazarus and his culture alive in this novel. Scriptures are woven throughout the book as the Jews sing Psalms for various occasions. Jesus’ teachings are placed with a specific context, which, even though it’s an imagined context, gave me new insight into familiar Bible verses.
Lazarus is a grape farmer and wine maker in When Jesus Wept. His perspective on his grapes leads to many interesting conversations with Jesus about faith—and a deeper understanding of some of Jesus’ teachings on wine (such as the wedding at Cana) and vines (“You are the branches, I am the vine”).
One of the reasons I stopped reading the Thoene’s books was that I got bored; I felt they were writing about the same thing over and over again. So while I was excited to read When Jesus Wept, I also wanted to see if they could bring something new to writing Biblical fiction. And they did. I literally devoured When Jesus Wept, as the characters kept me wanting to know what happens next.
Even though I knew a basic outline of the story from knowing the Gospel accounts of it, I was interested in what the Thoenes brought to the story. And I was amazed and impressed by the amount of research—both historical and Biblical—they put into this novel to bring the people and places alive.
More about Brock and Bodie Thoene
Brock and Bodie Thoene are the authors of more than 65 novels. Bodie began her writing career as a teen journalist for her local paper and went on to write for more prestigious papers such as U.S. News and The Saturday Evening Post. She also worked for John Wayne and is the author of The Fall Guy. She has degrees in journalism and communications. Brock has degrees in history and education and serves as Bodie’s researcher and story-line consultant. They have four grown sons, two of whom are carrying on their parents’ literary traditions. To find out more about the Thoenes or their books, visit their website.
Whether you are a longtime Thoene fan like me or have never read their books before, I recommend When Jesus Wept. This husband-and-wife writing team has written a novel that is sure to become a classic of Biblical fiction.