Karen Kingsbury, queen of inspirational fiction, enters the nonfiction arena with six fictionalized accounts of Jesus' relatives in The Family of Jesus scheduled to release July 1. She is careful to only take "literary license" with the "possible," she says, otherwise her stories are "anchored in Scripture" and what is known about the life and times of Jesus.
The collection of short stories, written from the perspective of those closest to Jesus, can be read as standalone narratives or used as a Life-changing Bible Study series on the lives of:
· "The Protective Stepfather—Joseph"
· "The Knowing Uncle—Zechariah"
· "The Chosen Cousin—John the Baptist"
· "The Faithful Aunt—Elisabeth"
· "The Doubting Brother—James"
· "The Loving Mother—Mary"
For example, readers join Joseph in the opening story as he works on a small "prayer table" made from select pieces of olive wood he's spent hours polishing "until the grain shone like glass" for his beloved Mary. He could hardly wait to give it to her when their customary year of betrothal was over and they would marry. While he worked Joseph dreamed of the years ahead with a smile on his face, unaware that Mary would soon break his heart with the words, "Joseph...I'm pregnant."
Karen's compelling writing allow readers to feel what it might have been like for John the Baptist to dedicate his life to preparing the way for Jesus. To understand the worry and fear James felt for his older Brothers safety and sanity when Jesus "started telling people He was God." Or the painful problem of infertility Elizabeth and Zechariah suffered that set them apart from their neighbors who had dozens of children. Or the final story, when we see Jesus through the eyes of His mother Mary in the final weeks of his life. Her pain, her suffering, her sorrow and her joy when she understood, Jesus was far more than her Son, he was "her Lord. Her risen Savior."
Karen's poignant stories equip readers to view familiar Bible characters with fresh eyes and understand they were people just like us who lived through extraordinary times and miraculous events. Except for Jesus, who was the Reason for it all.
While the narratives focus on Jesus' relatives and their struggles, the last third of the book contains chapter-by-chapter "Scripture readings and questions for further reflection." The Bible study segment is for individual or group use with chapter-by-chapter study quesitons. If used within a group the "Group Discussion questions" offer guidance, direction and conclude with a "Homework question."
Karen does what she does best, allow readers to view beloved Bible characters with fresh eyes and imagine what life might have been like for them, while her Bible study encourages thought-provoking reflection and spiritual growth. Visit Karen Kingsbury's website for more information.
"The Family of Jesus," Life-Changing Bible Study Series, by Karen Kingsbury, Howard Books, July 1, 2014, 305 Pages, 978-1476707372, $19.99
Midwest Book Reviews—"Gail's Bookshelf:" June 2014
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