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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
They Called Him Yeshua: The Story of the Young Jesus: How Jesus’ Unrecorded Years Shaped His Ministry by Dr. Donald Brake and Shelly Beach is a novel with powerful biblical themes, inspiring and hugely entertaining. In this story, the authors recreate the world of Jesus before his public life and feature memorable biblical characters. There are strong hints of history. Nazareth of Jesus’ childhood is so beautifully captured in this book. The authors create stories that reflect both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus, and it is written from the points of view of Joseph and Mary, the parents who were honored to raise and protect him. The authors explore the themes of the Roman occupation and Jewish history and give a very accurate picture of what Jesus’ early years looked like.
The setting is captured with unusual vividness, and the physical, as well as the cultural and political elements of the setting come out with brilliance through the narrative. For instance, just as we open the book, we are greeted by Joseph waking up: “Through one slitted eye, Joseph glimpsed the amethyst sky crowning Nazareth, still shrouding the dawn. He lowered his gaze to the rooftop sleeping quarters he shared with his brothers.” This is a work filled with imagination and intuition, a novel that will provoke reflection in readers, opening their eyes to a world filled with possibility, one that Jesus inhabited. The writing is gorgeous and the descriptions are exceptional. They Called Him Yeshua is bold and full of adventure, with well-developed characters brimming with humanity. Themes of politics, love and family, parenting and growth, as well as religion, are skillfully written into the novel. I enjoyed every bit of it.