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4.1 out of 5 stars
Lazarus Is Dead
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 December 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent and thought provoking book that sheds light in a fun way on the first person to return from the dead
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on 25 May 2015
Star quality book. Loved it.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2011
When I was given this to read I expected something on the lines of C.K.Stead's book, My Name was Judas but this is tovercomplicated and reads more like a theological mystery than a story albeit an interesting one. I am glad to have read it but would not buy it.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Being a Christian I had hoped this book might be a really enjoyable fictional tale of Lazarus from what is known in scripture, but I have to say while I appreciate it's neither aimed at Christians, nor promoted as holding a particular religious slant, I found it a really complex and sometimes difficult book to read. Parts of it were acceptably interesting fiction but because the author also weaves in factual information without any break in the text other than a normal paragraph break, it can be hard separating the two at times. For me, if you're going to provide supporting factual information this should either be in italics or separated from the rest of the text in a box or whatever. That way there's no way of confusing which is which.

I was hugely uncomfortable with many of the statements attributed to Jesus - while we can't know how he lived his youth, it's highly, *highly* unlikely that he would have done or said many of things the author attributes to him. It's one thing to have poetic license with a "minor" character in scripture - quite another to do so with the Son of God, 2nd person of the Trinity, & Saviour of the world - to do so is rank blasphemy against God Himself although I doubt the author would worry about such a "small" detail perhaps given how often he undertakes the action.

He makes a lot of assumptions about Jesus that are made to sound almost factual in how they're presented. He states on Pg 196 that Jesus in his crucifixion "needs to outshine the great & unprecedented miracle, the raising of Lazarus..." and gives the impression constantly that Jesus almost orchestrated every part of His life without any purpose other than to be the "Big Man" or look good against other self-styled Messiahs around at the time.

There's so much wrong with this style of story telling when it comes to the primary focus of Christianity - making Jesus out to be nothing more than a man who desired to outshine those around Him by stage-managing his life & death is just about the worst I've encountered in this type of fiction. He has used the story of Lazarus as a neat hook to provide a platform to try to decimate the Christian faith - the last 10 pages of the book are spent on phrases like "Jesus has learned from Lazarus - 3 days is an ideal period to stay buried" and "Jesus lets Lazarus go first; He pays attention. Then He does what Lazarus did, only better"(Pg 248-49). He goes on, on later pages, to totally misinterpret some portions of scripture attributing statements to refer to Lazarus rather than Jesus (Luke 16:31)(Pg 260).

Those who have no faith at all, faith in a different Jesus (e.g. Mormons), or whose faith is based on experience rather than the saving grace of the Gospel will have little problem enjoying the content - but I'd advise any faithful Christian to steer clear of it.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sitting down to write this review the first thing that comes to mind is the question 'who is Richard Beard writing for'? I can't imagine a non-christian being interested in a novel about Lazarus. The majority of Christians who pick it up will probably find it silly and not bother to finish it whilst there will be a few who might well find it blasphemous and upsetting.
There are many strange and fantastical ideas floating about in this novel but the main one is that before the crucifixion and resurrection Jesus tried out various scenarios to see which would be the most convincing and therefore survive in the historic record. So he raises the centurion's daughter back to life but this turns out to be too soon after her death from an unspecified illness and Jesus realises history may conclude she was only sleeping. There is no real proof that Lazarus really died as his was an inconspicuous death witnessed only by his sisters. Leaving Lazarus in the tomb for 4 days to show he was really and truly dead doesn't work too well either as when he stumbles out of the tomb, smelly and blinking in the light, he made a pretty undignified re-entry onto the world stage, not the best way for a god to be remembered throughout the centuries! So after these experiments Jesus decides he need a very public death for himself - there must be no doubt Jesus is really dead when he is placed in his tomb and his exit from that tomb must be dignified and unsmelly. Jesus' concludes that a very public death such as crucifixion followed by an unwitnessed exit from the tomb after 3 days, followed by an appearance to only one person will be the best method by which to be remembered through the centuries. Even as a basis for a fantasy novel this is a ridiculous premise - a man who needs to practise is just that, a man, so couldn't raise or be raised from the dead. On the other hand if Jesus was a god he would know the future and the past and wouldn't need to try out various methods of staging a resurrection.
It is quite hard to tell how Beard wanted to play this novel - is it a sort of pretend biography [he refers frequently to other authors and artists who have looked at Lazarus over the centuries] or is it purely an exercise in imagination? Considering Beard refers so often to other authors I thought it was rather misleadingly that on several occasions he misuses the Gospel of John to assert that Lazarus first developed symtoms of illness the week of the Wedding at Cana in Galilee [the first miracle described in this Gospel]. From the time of this miracle poor Lazarus spends the rest of Jesus' ministry until just before the Crucifixion developing more and more symptoms of various illnesses until finally the poor bloke dies. I looked out a copy of the Gospel of St John and read it through - but there is absolutely nothing about when Lazarus became ill or what he died of, so this aspect of the novel is purely imaginative. Nevertheless I found the discussion about what could have ailed Lazarus interesting - as Beard says it is unlikely to have been contagious or the rest of his family would have also become ill. I won't say what conclusion the author finally comes to as some may love his imaginative idea whereas I thought it to be probably the most ridiculous idea in a novel of weird ideas!
Although for centuries thousands of people have probably worried away at the question of what happened to Lazarus after he was raised from the dead I can't say I had devoted any thought to it before but the novel did convince me that speculating about what it would be like to be raised from the dead was interesting. I have given this book 3 stars purely on the basis of the fact that I found speculating about what illness Lazarus might have died of, and the question of what a person might do if given a second chance at life subjects worth pondering upon. However, that said, I doubt if I would have finished this book if I wasn't an Amazon Vine reviewer anxious to give other readers an idea of they would find between the covers of this novel! fjs
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5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 13 August 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book's overt attempts to be quirky are, to my mind, a cover for its lack of substance. It lacks characterisation - I didn't care what happened to any of the characters as I couldn't identify with any of them - and it also lacks a coherent plot. I don't know who it is supposed to appeal to - certainly not Christians, but I can't imagine non-Christians being interested in it either. It scrapes the barrel of historical and literary documents about Lazarus in an attempt to convince us that it is rooted in some sort of reality, but fails to do so. Although it is relatively short at around 260 pages, I struggled to get through it and was glad when it was over. Still, I see that other reviewers have enjoyed it, so maybe you shouldn't pay too much attention to the ramblings of a grumpy old man.
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