Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tosca Lee's Iscariot ~ Reviewed

By Tosca Lee
Published by Howard Books
336 Pages
Back Cover:  Based on extensive research into the life and times of Judas Iscariot, this triumph of fiction storytelling by the author of Havah: The Story of Eve revisits one of biblical history’s most maligned figures and brings the world he inhabited vividly to life.

In Jesus, Judas believes he has found the One—the promised Messiah and future king of the Jews, destined to overthrow Roman rule. Galvanized, he joins the Nazarene’s followers, ready to enact the change he has waited for all his life. But soon Judas’s vision of a nation free from Rome is crushed by the inexplicable actions of the Nazarene himself, who will not bow to social or religious convention—who seems, in the end, to even turn against his own people. At last, Judas must confront the fact that the master he loves is not the liberator he hoped for, but a man bent on a drastically different agenda.

Iscariot is the story of Judas, from his tumultuous childhood to his emergence as the man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But even more, it is a singular and surprising view into the life of Jesus that forces us to reexamine everything we thought we knew about the most famous—and infamous—religious icons in history.

Review:  Tosca Lee drops you on the streets of Capernaum, Jerusalem. You will see the sights, hear the sounds and live life through the mind and heart of Judas Iscariot. You’ll feel his pain, and despair as Roman armies rule in the land.
Your heart will ache as you read about his turbulent childhood and grieve with him about the horrific experiences as a grown man.

He was a devout Jew who was a keeper of the law and wanted to be a teacher of it. Tragedy strikes and he knows in his heart of hearts he will fail to live up to the standard set by the “law” he loved so much.

Judas was tormented by the law; this author did a brilliant job of showing the struggle everyone had following the “law”. I could see clearly how Jesus came to set us free of our bondage to the law! Hallelujah!

I’m thrilled to have received a review copy of this enlightening, gritty novel, rich in historical detail that helped bring the people and time period to life. This author soaked herself in over a hundred books, lectures, documentaries, commentaries, sermons, and collected articles even went to Israel to see firsthand where Jesus walked.

Tosca Lee wrote this novel through Judas eyes. This enabled me catch a glimpse of what Jesus ministry looked like through his disciple’s understanding. It also gave me a peek of the crowd Jesus spoke to filled with stalkers, followers and plotters. The stakes were high for the twelve but they felt it was worth the price to follow him.

This author takes her time in laying the ground work and having the reader experience Judas’ development of how he lived and thought. It was realistic and tragic. Judas agonized over Jesus’ situation as the crowds grew bigger, he became more popular and the awareness of the Pharisee and Sadducees’ plot to push Jesus into an offence they could kill him for. Judas felt Jesus didn’t see this happening as he spoke. Tosca captured the political unrest and what was happening around Jesus as he spoke.

Could Judas have been trying to protect Jesus? He felt he knew the law better than Jesus did? Could the religious leaders lead Judas down a path they knew he would take in order to protect his master, Jesus?

Tosca Lee has readers experience Jesus’ ministry through Judas eyes as one of the 12 chosen disciples. Judas felt peace around Jesus and grew to love him like the others. I like how she showed the disciples didn’t get Jesus and they were standing right next to him. He spoke in riddles they said.

Here’s a peek into Tosca’s novel. Jesus tells the man at the Siloam pool, take up your mat and walk. Judas thinks, “That day I understood, if I had not fully before, that Jesus was more than a mystery, more than unconventional, more than a faction able to unite some and divide others.

He was dangerous – to himself and to all of us who followed him…He was the gatherer of multitudes, this Jesus. A man of questioned birth, who claimed the Lord himself, was his father…and then he healed on the Sabbath in violation of God’s law. Man of contradictions! Didn’t he know that there were those who might seek his ruin for this?...He spoke in riddles. He was a riddle himself.”

Judas went on to say, “Our numbers grew. I was nervous because I knew Herod’s spies were everywhere. The Pharisees already conspired against us; soon Herod would come for my master as surely as he had for John the Baptist. We were running out of time…I was also elated because that meant soon the day would come. Jesus would have to proclaim himself- by Passover, I was certain.”

This is a book to be experienced. It will help you slip into the time period and feel Judas and the twelve disciples struggle. This is a haunting tale that helped me prepare my heart and mind for this years’ Easter Celebration. I’ve seen this story with fresh eyes as I went back to scripture and re-read these events, you will too.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

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