Book Summary: Americas favorite inspirational novelist offers a fictional view of six of the family members of Jesus, all anchored by Scriptural truth, creating a life-changing and unprecedented emotional connection to the Bible. Through The Family of Jesus, readers will develop an emotional connection to the family members of Jesus, learning about their lives and falling in love with Scripture along the way. Bible studies and devotionals abound, and in churches everywhere people gather to seek a deeper understanding of Gods word and its application to their lives. But too often these studies engage only the analytic approach to Bible learning. In The Family of Jesus, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist Karen Kingsbury will make you laugh, cry, and ultimately care more deeply about the Bible by helping you grasp the truths in Scripture not just with your mind, but with your heart. The characters in these short stories were among those closest to JesusMary, Joseph, Jesus brother James, John the Baptist, Zechariah, and Elizabeth. Each has a compelling tale to tell. Kingsbury intersperses fictional, emotionally gripping details anchored in Scripture with historical and theological insights and questions that will guide soul-searching and reflection. The Family of Jesus not only provides a deeper understanding of the relatives of our Savior, but also helps readers acquire tools that will draw them closer to Christ, to the Scriptures, and to each other.
Review: I find Karen Kingsbury to be a talented writer and this book puts flesh on the people surrounding Jesus and puts the dust on your face and leaves sand in your mouth from the skillful way she weaves a story.
I would like to thank Net Galley and Howard Books for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.
Karen Kingsbury in her new book, "The Family Of Jesus" Book One in the Life-Changing Bible Study Series published by Howard Books gives us America's favorite inspirational storyteller brings the family of Jesus to life.
From the back cover: Meet the family closest to Jesus_
Joseph, His stepfather: the protector of Jesus
Zechariah, His uncle: a priest who waited on God
Elizabeth, His aunt: A woman who faithfully believed in the impossible
John the Baptist, His cousin: a man whose whole life meant dying for Jesus
James, His brother: a man whose regret turned to joy
Mary, His mother: a woman desperate to save her son from the one mission she couldn't stop
These are their stories.
Each has a compelling tale to tell. Based on The Bible and interspersed with emotionally gripping fictional details as well as historical and theological insights, the stories of Jesus' family will shed new light on God's Word.
Read and imagine The Bible like never before.
Karen Kingsbury brings her incredible talent as an author to write this wonderful insight into six members of Jesus' family. In six chapters Ms. Kingsbury shows us the individuals we have read about all our lives in a brand new manner. Then after we have been drawn into their lives we are given the six weekly application and group discussion guides for each person. You probably never looked at these people like this before but the insights you will get from their humanity and their willingness to serve God will move your spirit. This is a life-changing read. It will make a great gift for family and friends.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
With The Family of Jesus, Karen Kingsbury uses her talent to take her fans in a new direction. She has embarked on a storytelling journey into the realm of Biblical fiction. In my opinion it is some of the best work I have seen from her in a long time. That is not to say I haven't enjoyed her recent works, it is just that this book feels like her original writing. It is very engaging in its simply told stories.
I'm a very picky reader when it comes to Biblical fiction. I think there is a fine line that shouldn't be crossed and I'm happy to say that Karen stayed on the correct side of that line. In fact at the very beginning of the book she explained the parameters that she stuck to in telling the stories.
"From the beginning as I undertook this project, I felt compelled by my love of the Bible to stick to some hard-and-fast ground rules. The most important was this: The stories had to be anchored in Scripture. In a way, I took the Bible verses on these real-life characters and stuck them like tent stakes in the desert sand. Nothing could ever violate those truths.
Then I researched the cultural and geographical accuracy and made absolutely sure the tent of the stories didn't billow beyond that.
But otherwise, I let the tent blow in the wind a little."
So with that in mind I'm pleased to say that this was a wonderful journey through the life of Christ as seen through the eyes of those closest to Him. The story begins with Joseph and winds through Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, James and then ends with His mother Mary.
The stories are so well told that I found myself contemplating things that I had never really considered before. Such as how did Mary and Joseph's families feel about the situation. What kind of shame would be heaped upon Zachariah for remaining childless all those years? After all he is a priest and his offspring is expected to carry on that priestly line. What would John the Baptist be like as a child? The Scripture says he was filled with the Spirit from birth. How would that affect his actions and decisions? As you can see there is lots and lots to ponder during the telling of this line of stories.
The second half of the book is made up of a six week Bible study that takes each of the characters presented and spends five days delving deeper into the background of that person. Each week then ends with a Group Discussion session. This book would make an excellent small-group study or even an extended Book Club read and discussion.
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury offers a brand new idea- the idea of Biblical Christian fiction paired up with a bible study section to bring together a brand new experience for her readers. This concept is a good one I think, as I know personally when I read good Biblical fiction, it sends me running to my Bible to see if what the writer's imagination has come up with is "plausible" in terms of matching up with what the Bible says about that particular person in the scripture. This is exactly what Karen Kingsbury set out to do by using Bible scholars to help her in terms of running these stories by them to see if they could be possible. And so, while we do get a look at the relatives of Jesus in a brand new way with the lovely help of Karen Kingsbury, it is refreshing then to spend some time at the back of the book as she provides 5 days of actual study into the character that she wrote about. And in the end, just as she hoped by taking this journey in learning about the "family of Jesus", it helps you to love Jesus that much more.
The book opens with the story of Joseph, described as the protective stepfather and what his journey might have been like, his relationship with Mary, etc. We then move to Zechariah, the knowing Uncle, John the Baptist, the chosen cousin, Elizabeth, the faithful aunt, James, the doubting brother and of course ends, with Mary, the loving Mother. In usual Karen Kingsbury style, the reader can't help but engage with the characters and be moved as you witness the great love shown in the relationships such as in Mary and Joseph's relationship at the onset in hearing that Mary is pregnant. You see great faith in the impossible in Elizabeth's life and heart as the impossible came to pass and great sacrifice in the life of John the Baptist as his whole life was preparing for Jesus and then dying as well. And as a mother, my heart was moved, of course, by Mary's story, a mother just wanting to save her son, but helpless to do so. Love, sacrifice, and faith and of course the tears were flowing- grab your Kleenex box as you fully engage with this story. I greatly enjoyed the journey.
As always when you are reading something like this where there is a fictional component, it's wise to keep the two separate in terms of what we know scripturally versus what can be possible. But I think the beauty and value in this is remembering that they were real people with real emotions, struggles and joys and heartbreak. In taking this journey, it helps to bring these character's alive in a new and precious way. I am glad that I took this journey and hope that you take it as well, and fully engage in both parts- the story section on the character as well as the bible study section as it makes for a very moving experience and one that makes you dig into these character's lives through the Bible as well.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book through the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.