16 May 2013



On a Passover night, in the midst of an olive grove, a young rabbi from Galilee is waiting. He knows that his people have abandoned him, that he will be arrested. Alone with the stars, he relives the events which have changed his life – his meeting with John the Baptist, his stay in the desert, followed by his two years of wandering – and reiterates his personal message to the world, a message which was misunderstood by his followers, rejected by the authorities and which ultimately leads to his betrayal and downfall.

Michel Benoît constructs a lively and entertaining novel, based on rigorous research and analysis, and gives voice to an ordinary man whose teachings, subsequently distorted by the church establishment, delivered words of hope on the eve of catastrophe.
..... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Part 1: Chapter 1): In the dark of night I lean back against an olive tree.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 79): So it was the son of Joseph, brought up in the purest of Jewish traditions, spent two days among people who had broken away from Judaism, and were hated by his fellow countrymen. Slept under their roof, ate food from the same dish, food that had been prepared by the unclean hands of their womenfolk.

MY THOUGHTS: Perhaps a bit slow to begin with but certainly well worth persevering with, translated from the French by Christopher Moncrieff, overall I thought The Silence Of Gethsemane, a fictionalised account of the ministry of Jesus up until the time of his arrest in Gethsemane, as interesting as it was controversial.

Written by former unordained Benedictine monk Michel Benoît, the thirty years spent researching and analysing certainly show in what is one of the most thought provoking books I'm ever likely to read.

Taking great pains to portray the 'historical' Jesus as opposed to Jesus 'the son of God', I loved the fact that the author went to such lengths to portray and explain Jewish life and the religious laws of that time thus putting the 'miracles' into a different context. That, written in the first person', he had the Jesus of the novel describe himself as an ordinary man, a rabbi, and never the Messiah.

Powerful stuff and so very different from any of the other 'Life of Jesus' novels I've ever read, I can't begin to put into words all of the thoughts this book conjured up for me but I will say that as a non-believer it opened my eyes to the possible ministry and teachings of Jesus the man which makes a lot more sense to me than that of the divine Jesus of the bible.

Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of the publishers, Alma Books Ltd, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.
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Kelly said...

This sounds like it might be quite interesting, and definitely from a different perspective.

....Petty Witter said...

Both Husband dearest who also read it and I thought so Kelly.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I'm so intrigued by your review - enough to add it to my list. Thanks.

Arti said...

This sounds quite intruiging. Will surely look out for this one.
Lovely review as always!
Have a nice day Tracy :)

Lindsay said...

I don't think I've ever read anything like this. It was interesting to read about it in your review. Glad you found it thought-provoking, and I like how you finished your review, it makes me wonder whether it would interest me even as a fellow non-believer.

Literary Feline said...

I admit my first thought was to dismiss the book based on the subject matter, but your thoughts on it have me curious. I like the idea that the book is told from the perspective it is and doesn't play up the Messiah aspect. It makes the story more appealing to me. I can see why this book might be controversial as a result though, especially in religious circles.

This is one I will have to add to my wish list.

Naida said...

This sounds worthwhile, I like that it seems to be written in a way that will enlighten the reader about Jesus the man as opposed to Jesus the biblical messiah.
Great review Tracy!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

This sounds like something I would enjoy. I really would like to see that perspective. Brilly review!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I'm afraid that I am a confirmed non-believer, so whilst I am sure that understanding things from an alternative perspective could be very thought provoking, this probably isn't a book which I would ever read.

Thanks for a thoughtful review and I am glad that you found the book so enlightening and interesting,


Blond Duck said...

I'm very curious!

Gina R said...

Not a genre I usually delve into, though I have read one along similar lines about Mary. Interesting read. Thanks for the share!

Jinky said...

Ooooh, I want to get my hands on this book! I'm putting it on my tbr list and be sure to look for it the next time I go to the bookstore! Thanks for the intriguing review. :)