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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written; challenging and thought-provoking
A wonderfully "new" type of novel that weaves history, myth, speculation, theology and story-telling together in a fascinating way. The research the author has done is offered up in the pages that make up a sort of commentary on the re-telling of the biblical story of Lazarus and his being raised from the dead. Whether or not you are a believer there is much to...
Published on 5 Aug 2011 by CJ Craig

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars CROSSES THE LINE OF FACT?
This is the story of Lazarus who just happens to be one of the oldest friends of Jesus Christ. A very interesting hook that piqued my interest right from reading the title.

The book is a cross between a summary of the facts that we know about Lazarus interweaved with a fantasy story about his relationship with Jesus that takes artistic license based upon the...
Published on 21 Nov 2011 by Mr. William Oxley


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written; challenging and thought-provoking, 5 Aug 2011
By 
CJ Craig (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
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A wonderfully "new" type of novel that weaves history, myth, speculation, theology and story-telling together in a fascinating way. The research the author has done is offered up in the pages that make up a sort of commentary on the re-telling of the biblical story of Lazarus and his being raised from the dead. Whether or not you are a believer there is much to challenge lazy thinking in this new book by Richard Beard. For Christians I think it would make an interesting choice for a church book club. You do not need to agree with everything, or anything, that Beard writes but you do have to think about the issues he raises in this often over-looked biblical story. For non-Christians or non-believers Beard poses some very interesting philosophical and sociological points that are easily applicable to contemporary situations. Even the subtle political moves by Romans and Jewish priests should bring about a good discussion with friends and colleagues.

The nature of the actual book is refreshing. The reader is drawn into the familiar story with just enough changes and what-if scenarios to bring the story alive. And then there is the commentary and author's reflections on his own research in preparation for the book that makes you feel as though you are sitting in his study discussing the issues the biblical story has raised for him and which he wants to raise with you.

Richard Beard has been described as "one of the most ingenious, resourceful and entertaining novelists in England" and I would have to agree that that sums it up nicely.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A completely unique book., 2 Aug 2011
This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
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Wow, this is one of those books that's rather hard to describe, let alone review. It comes from a leftfield view of the world, written in a way that makes you wonder if it's just you that doesn't' think along those lines.

Ostensibly, this is a work of theology telling the story of Lazarus. A passing knowledge of biblical history is probably a help in reading this, but as long as you've heard of Jesus you're probably ok. The author mixes biblical story, historical fact, art and imagination in a way that is completely convincing in telling the life of Lazarus, his early friendship growing up with Jesus, his decline, death and resurrection. As Lazarus is really barely mentioned in the bible (although important, his part is small) this is quite a feat to expand a few sentences into an entire lifetime.

This is a great book for imagining how things must have seemed to ordinary people at the time. After all, after Lazarus was raised it would be natural for people to wonder if perhaps actually is Lazarus the messiah? Jesus has yet to die and return, but Lazarus managed it. Or was Lazarus just a trial run for Jesus, so he could gauge how to maximise the impact and conviction of his own resurrection? How does Lazarus feel about all this? Confused? Annoyed? What about the Romans, who were wondering as much as anyone about what Jesus and Lazarus are up to?

This is a fascinating book, with a great insight and humour. Don't think this is one only for the religious, it's a really good read even for died in the wool atheists. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable AND utterly original, 17 Aug 2011
By 
Ian Marchant (Presteigne, Powys) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
It's very unusual to find a book which is both readable and original; here is one such. Richard Beard has thrown everything he knows about genre out of the window, and found a new way to tell a remarkable story. Is this a novel, or a work of 'creative non-fiction', or a sustained and brilliant piece of theological speculation, or what? I don't know, but I do know that the hairs stood up on the back of my neck at the end. I also know that Beard is one of our most original and woefully under-rated novelists, and that anyone who is interested in what a novel might be should read this extra-ordinary book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up. It's A Beautiful Day!, 25 Aug 2011
By 
Bela Lugosi's Dad "Bela Lugosi's Dad" (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
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A casual perusal of the fiction charts in, say, Tesco's or Sainsbury's, would be enough to convince you that a book like Richard Beard's latest cannot possibly exist. It's not a crime drama from Scandanavia, it hasn't stolen a font or cover design from Peter James or Martina Cole, and it doesn't boast a publisher's banner screaming 'BETTER THAN DONALD DUCK OR TWICE YOUR MONEY BACK!!!'
Turn the clock back ten years and you could walk into any middling book shop and find a decent selection of interesting, challenging or just downright oddball fiction but these are strange times, J K Rowling can be found in her local park every day at noon talking to the squirrels and the average branch of Waterstones's is fashioning display furniture out of unsold copies of Jo Nesbo's last 12 books.
And 'One Day' by David Nickels (sic) is officially the best book since the Bible (based on a poll of nineteen Heart FM listeners).
Which sort of brings us back to Lazurus is Dead, Richard Beard's snazzy new take on the New Testament.
I could give you a precis of the plot but the story of Lazurus must be familiar to anyone who's snoozed through one and a half religious education classes at big school.Richard Beard once wrote a book about giving up smoking called 'X20', read that first and then read 'Lazurus' and feel instantly cleverer than the dinner party guest to your right who has skimmed all the longlist of this year's Booker (Don't bother, they're all boring. Am I allowed to say that?). I think what I might be trying to say, and I'm a little behind on my medication so thanks for bearing with me, is that when you wade through as much chaff as I do - and I managed a bookshop for eight years so I almost know what I'm talking about - it's the small gems like this, and the new Magnus Mills, and , while I'm plugging stuff, Tom Perrotta's 'Bad Haircut' - that are the reward for having to look at the gurning face of Peter Kay or Michael Mug-entire every time I cast a nostalgic gaze towards a book shop window at yuletide.
Lazurus Is Dead - three hundred and forty seven times better than Katie Price's 'Crystal' or five time your mortgage back!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Quirky, 29 Nov 2011
By 
Big Bad Bill "Big Bad Bill" (Somwhere on the Celtic Fringe) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
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This book which tells the story of Lazarus of Bible fame is an interesting take on the Jesus story. I found it an entertaining read and well worth the time spent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and challenging, 10 Oct 2011
By 
Steve Benner "Stonegnome" (Lancaster, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
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In "Lazarus Is Dead", Richard Beard has produced a powerful and provocative re-evaluation of the role that Lazarus of Bethany has to play in the story of Jesus of Nazareth. Posited initially as biography, the book is part novel, part historical reconstruction and part mystery play and will undoubtedly infuriate as many as it fascinates, in its almost blasphemous shift from scripture through parody to black comedy and back again. And yet, the author never demonstrates anything less than a breath-takingly exhaustive amount of background research, painstakingly analysed and evaluated, combined with a hugely sensitive and devastatingly credible synthesis of the turmoil created and endured within what is essentially for many nothing more a minor episode and featuring only in John's version of the narrative of the Saviour.

The story that Beard develops here is both moving and challenging, providing much to think about and mull over for Christian and non-Christian alike, providing it is approached in an open and receptive frame of mind and not mistaken for something it is not. Highly recommended (although some may need to approach with caution!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..., 7 Sep 2011
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
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This book is partly an imaginative re-telling and embellishment of the story of Lazarus raised from the dead by Jesus, and partly a meticulously researched, highly speculative historical analysis of what that story means both in the context of Jesus's life and death and a philosophical discourse on its wider meaning for all of us. The book has lots of things about it that I like very much. It is extremely erudite, drawing on a huge range of cultural and historical sources for its ideas and analysis, the ideas are original and sometimes thought-provoking and the prose is excellent - readable, witty and beautifully crafted.

I should have loved this book but something got in the way. I did think it was well worth reading, just not the enjoyable gem it should have been. It may be a reflection on me rather than the book but somehow I found myself slightly unengaged, and occasionally wondering how much more there was to go. I cannot quite put my finger on why, but I think I felt that Richard Beard was making very sure we noticed how very clever and original he is and this kept intruding on my simple enjoyment of the book. The tricksy, layered section numbering is a small example: I can see why he's done it, but it just felt over-elaborate and self-conscious. I have to say, too, that in spite of all the philosophical fireworks I wasn't sure that in the end it really added up to quite as much as it promised.

Please don't let me put you off. Plenty of people don't share my reservations which are the result of a very personal response to the book, and I still thought it was pretty good - just perhaps a little bit too pleased with itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bringing things to life, 16 Aug 2011
By 
Ms. D. P. Marland "Dru" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
Oh post-Anglican muddling, somewhere between the unpleasantly excessive certitudes of the God-botherers and the atheists. We have our quietly spiritual moments, and model them in the trappings and half-remembered rituals of the faith we were raised in; one populated by a blond, bearded Jesus and assortment of goodies and baddies, dresssed as for the Nativity play. And somewhere in the background, an urbane God, moving in a mysterious way, but almost certainly On Our Side. Even though we ruefully acknowledge, in quiet moments, that we have left undone that which we ought to have done, and done those things which we ought not to have done. Oh yes.

Reading Richard Beard's Lazarus Is Dead was like returning to the village I was brought up in, but now being included in the grown-up conversations, and finding that there was much more going on than I'd previously noticed. Lazarus and Jesus are childhood friends; the core narrative of the book describes the last year of Jesus' life, and the last year of Lazarus' first life, as it were. It examines the difficulties you face when your best friend turns out to be the son of God, and therefore either less or more than human; and how disruptive it can be to your life when you're just trying to get on with things and suddenly find yourself part of a divine plan. If that is what it is.

There are layers and layers going on here; the story is true to the biblical narrative, as far as that goes and as far as that is consistent; beyond that, there are historical records, and artistic and literary interpretations of a story that we thought we knew but (in my case at least) turn out not to know that well. And, of course, Richard's own telling of the story. Romans and Sanhedrin work hard at realpolitik to shape events in a manner favourably to them. Points are missed. Wrong is got, in a darkly comical way. Lazarus tries to make sense of it all. Does he succeed? Read the book, and maybe you'll find out.

The story is vividly told; the past is brought to life. And there's enough space in this book for any shade of belief or unbelief. I enjoyed it hugely. Go and do likewise.

Postscript; it has been suggested that I should declare an interest. So I do. I am a friend of Richard's, and collaborated with him on a book in which I feature, "Becoming Drusilla" (another v good read, IMHO :-)). But I do like this book, and think it's rather good, as I hope I have made clear.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THOUGHT PROVOKING, 5 Aug 2011
By 
A Happy Chappie (Surrey England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Hardcover)
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This book is about Lazarus and what leads up to his raising from the dead and how he's been seen, and judged, by subsequent generations. It's about his childhood, his sisters and his relationship with both the temple priests and Jesus. Well it's not really, although he's the titular hero, the sub-text is writ large and in part it's really about Jesus and the authors very clever and well written, attempt to put some flesh on the bare bones of Jesus childhood and the rational for choosing to raise Lazarus and how that fits into Christian theology.

Sounds dry, it's far from it, Mr Beard mixes fact and fiction in a way I've not read since I last picked up a book by George Ebers. But, whereas Ebers tends to introduce `facts' to support his narrative in a heavy handed and sometimes discordant way, Mr Beard does it with considerably more skill I think and it flows with the narrative so one hardly notices where fictional conversations tail off and `fact' is introduced.

The books covers lots of ground, facts and theories but, it is in the end a work of historical fiction, it couldn't be otherwise as we have so very little information about Lazarus. Though I think that by the time you finish this very well written and very enjoyable book (it's the first book I've read for ages which I couldn't put down and read at one sitting) you'll think you know a lot more about him than most other people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The gospel according to John from marketing, 2 April 2013
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lazarus Is Dead (Paperback)
Lazarus is Dead is the most extraordinary, intelligent and thought provoking book. It takes the story of Lazarus from John's gospel (and one of the things the less biblically familiar reader learn is that Lazarus only appears in John) and puts the resurectee at the centre of the narrative.

The style is that of a docusoap or factional biography. The author, Richard Beard takes the basic references from the bible and builds a complete back story for his hero. In an interesting device he also takes much later works and treats them as historical references. Thus, Beard's Lazarus is clean shaven, as evidenced by mediaeval paintings through which the true picture "re-emerged".

The Lazarus who emerges is a very recognisable character, a modern man, a market trader with an eye for a deal, an ambitious merchant building a career through any means at his disposal, including an advantageous marriage. This is Lazarus the chancer, the charismatic wide-boy.

By placing Lazarus at the heart of things, the author, of course throws a different light on the story of Jesus, and it is a light which illuminates the division between Jesus and the Christ. We learn of the childhood friendship between Lazarus and the very human boy Jesus. There are pre-echoes of later occurrences and questions as we see Jesus saved from falling from a great height by Lazarus and then Jesus is powerless at the death of Lazarus' brother Amos. (If there is a god of love and Jesus is his son, why does he let these things happen).

As well as telling his, story, Beard also tells the story of the story of Lazarus and how it appears in the works of different authors and in different cultures. The idea of Lazarus Saturday in Russia with the baking of bread men is particularly appealing. This includes descriptions of the modern Lazarus tourist industry.

The first half of the book tells the story of Lazarus' health deteriorating over the course of twelve months as he slides downhill into the grave from which Jesus will summon him. It is not a pleasant read as Beard graphically describes the symptoms of all of the common diseases of biblical Israel to which his hero falls victim. Lazarus almost becomes a sort of picture of Dorian Gray as the sapping of his life force and physical decay seem to power his old friend's miracles.

The period between the resurrection of Lazarus and the resurrection of Jesus is the critical section of the book, as the final identity of the Christ, between the two men, seems to hang in the balance and in the hands of a Roman agent, before the true messiah puts matters beyond doubt.

At times this seems to be an unsympathetic picture of Jesus. This is a Jesus who works through a series of resurrections in order to understand how to make maximum impact with his own. (Lazarus the trial and Lazarus the error comes very shortly in the text before I am the way and I am the life). This is a Jesus who allows the prolonged suffering of his only acknowledged friend in order to make his own intervention as dramatic as possible. In short, this is Jesus the marketing expert. But then maybe not, perhaps, and thisit is more likely, this is a critique of John the creative/manipulative story constructor.

There is a lot more in this book than I can hope to bring out in this review. There is a lot more in this book than I can hope to find or understand. I suspect that anyone who reads it will find something different in it.
I would really like to emphasise that this is a book is one for believers and unbelievers alike. It is not an overtly religious book, but rather a book which looks to find meaning in telling an extraordinary story in a very pragmatic way.

Very highly recommended.
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Lazarus Is Dead
Lazarus Is Dead by Richard Beard (Hardcover - 18 Aug 2011)
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