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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Joseph of Arimathea: The Secret Disciple Who Buried the Body of Jesus by Ken Westbrook is a must-read historical Christian novel. This is a fictionalized account of Joseph, an unassuming businessman waiting on the prophesied Messiah, who asked Pilate for permission to bury the body of Jesus after His crucifixion. If you've ever wondered about the enigmatic Joseph--who he was, what he was like, why he held his faith in Christ in secret--this novel can offer some compelling insights. Besides Joseph's backstory, we get a glimpse into his character and the fear he carried as he worshipped Christ in the shadows at a time when it was dangerous to do so openly, though his silence was broken and his faith revealed when he asked for Christ's body. We are also treated to Jewish history and culture of the day.
Westbrook blends fiction, history, politics, and religion with Bible truths to craft an immersive story that is informative and inspiring. Though the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John mention Joseph, little has been known about him, which is why this book works so well. The author has filled in the blanks in a very believable and stimulating way. Westbrook's decision to novelize this man and the events surrounding the time of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection invites the reader to imagine how things could have played out, but doesn't change the biblical account, nor does it ask the reader to use this novel as a historical document. The story is fiction, after all, but is so convincing you feel as though it could be part of the Bible itself.
I do appreciate the attention to detail, the research and effort that went into the book, and the casual feel of the dialogue and other writing devices the author uses to make this a work of entertainment. Some historical novels can come across as academic or stale, but Westbrook has made Joseph's life and times come alive in a fresh, vibrant way. Joseph of Arimathea: The Secret Disciple Who Buried the Body of Jesus by Ken Westbrook is a masterful tale of one of Christianity's most mysterious figures.