Jesus: A Would Be King: Messianic Expectations, Human Frailty, Religious Reality, and Roman Rule
by Dr. Harold E. Littleton Jr. (Jan. 2012, www.createspace.com, 145 pages, $14.99)
Dr. Harold E. Littleton Jr., a leading divinity scholar who has taught at Western Carolina University, Mars Hill College, and now Gardner Webb University, has used Createspace to self-publish his humanized, deeply researched story of Jesus, the Rome-affiliated High Priests of Judea, and Jesus’ family.
“Jesus: A Would Be King,” the first novel in a proposed trilogy based on new archaeological research, begins with the arresting line: “If I had known then what I know now, I would have let the little mamzer drown.”
The narrator is Caiaphas, High Priest in Jerusalem, 18-36 CE; and Jesus’ nemesis. The second section is narrated by Jesus—Yeshua in the telling; and the third, titled “Climax,” is told in the third person.
In Littleton’s story, Caiaphas and Yeshua cross paths several times, the first when Caiaphas, a young teen, rescues Yeshua from drowning in the Sea of Galilee, where Caiaphas’ family has a country home.
“Even as a child of 6 or 7 he was different, unique, in a way hard to put in words,” Caiaphas says of Yeshua. “Oh, he was normal and mischievous. I remember being astonished by his sense of humor and the ease with which he related to adults and children.”
Years later, Caiaphas, now powerful, visits Capernaum, Yeshua’s home town, and learns that the woman he’d once coveted, Mariamne, was married to Yeshua. The couple had already conceived a child.
“Unfortunately,” Littleton acknowledges in his introduction, “for the overwhelming majority of Christians, any discussion or emphasis of the truly human nature of Jesus is offensive and ignored.”
Littleton takes his readers through Caiaphas’ trumped-up sedition charges against Yeshua and to the crucifixion.
Littleton updates the story to “when James (Yaaqov), the brother of Jesus, was executed by stoning in 62 CE.” An epilogue accounts for recent discoveries of ossuaries and inscriptions regarding the two competing families—Caiaphas’ and Yeshua’s.
There is a deeply spiritual message in Littleton’s novelization.
Regarding Jesus, he writes in a conclusion, “His message was a radical call to enter the kingdom of God NOW by living an unselfish life of love and in service to others. That message was misunderstood by Roman overlords and Jewish authorities and continues to challenge hearers today.”
Hal Littleton talks about and sign copies of his new novel, "Jesus: A Would Be King." 3 p.m., Mar. 18, Accent on Books, 854 Merrimon Ave. More information: 252-6255.