Brimming with wit and humor, Lazarus Is Dead transcends genres as it recounts the story of a great friendship lost and re-found. In the gospels Jesus is described as having only one friend, and when this friend dies, Jesus does something that he does nowhere else in the Bible. He weeps. Novelist Richard Beard begins here. Mixing Biblical sources, historical detail, fascinating references to music, art, and writers as diverse as Kahlil Gibran and Norman Mailor, and abundant ...
Brimming with wit and humor, Lazarus Is Dead transcends genres as it recounts the story of a great friendship lost and re-found.
In the gospels Jesus is described as having only one friend, and when this friend dies, Jesus does something that he does nowhere else in the Bible. He weeps. Novelist Richard Beard begins here. Mixing Biblical sources, historical detail, fascinating references to music, art, and writers as diverse as Kahlil Gibran and Norman Mailor, and abundant reserves of creative invention, Beard gives us his astonishing and amusing take on the greatest story ever told about second chances.
As children, Lazarus and Jesus were thick as thieves. But following a mysterious event, their friendship dwindled in early adulthood. One man struck out and became a flamboyant and successful businessman, the other stayed behind to learn a trade, and ultimately to find his calling in an unprecedented mix of spirituality and revolutionary zeal. Lazarus Is Dead is set during the final period in each man’s life—or, to be more precise, each man’s first life. Both know the end is near and, though they’re loath to admit it, they long for reconciliation. For that to happen they will need to find reasons to believe in each other before time runs out.
A fascinating mixture of fiction and academic essay...using biblical sources and other, less orthodox ones, Beard weaves a compelling tale portrait of first-century Israel, of Jerusalem with its factions and sects, and of Jesus, Lazarus's enigmatic friend, as he makes his journey towards the Cross
In this alternative theological novel Jesus does more than weep...and Lazarus does more than die. Beard engages in much plausible speculation here, for example, that Jesus and Lazarus grew up as best friends and then drifted apart. Lazarus seized an opportunity to become a businessman, buying sheep from the local farmers and reselling them at a profit to the temple, for according to strict Jewish practice, many sheep had to be sacrificed. But just about the time his former childhood friend performed his first miracle, Lazarus began to come down with a strange and mysterious illness, one that is more than merely an inconvenience that gets in the way of his sexual relationship with the prostitute Lydia and his engagement to Saloma. Beard invests this illness with a mythic quality by having Lazarus contract all of the seven major diseases of ancient Israel, and his symptoms combine those of smallpox, tuberculosis and dysentery, for his death has to be as certain as his resurrection. At first he calls upon Yanav the Healer, a local dispenser of herbs, but it soon becomes clear that Lazarus' physical decline is too severe for Yanav to handle. Lazarus' sister, Mary, then pleads with him to call upon Jesus, whose reputation for performing miracles is growing, but Lazarus is adamant that his former friend not be summoned. The mythic power of the story remains constant, of course, so Lazarus does in fact die, and Jesus does resurrect him, but the Romans, especially in the vicious form of Cassius, immediately begin to persecute Lazarus, feeling his resurrection has reinforced the extraordinary political power of Jesus. Throughout the narrative, Beard schools the reader in literary and artistic treatments of Lazarus to give the story a cultural and intellectual framework. Beard's take on Lazarus is nothing less than astonishing--and he respects the reader by taking religion and religious questions seriously.
Richard Beard is the author of four novels, including Damascus (Arcade, 1999), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Dry Bones (Secker & Warburg, 2004). He has written three works of non-fiction, and is the Director of the National Academy of Writing in London.