Book review: The Making of the Lamb
by Robert Harley Bear
What really happened during Jesus’ “lost years” between his appearance at the Temple at age 12 and his ministry at about age 30? Did he grow up in Egypt? India? Or working with his father as a carpenter in Tiberias?
Bear’s story builds upon a medieval legend of Jesus visiting Britain, perhaps under the care of Joseph of Arimathea, who was in some versions of the legend Jesus’ great uncle and a tin merchant. Maybe you’ve read Gordon Strachan’s Jesus the Master Builder: Druid Mysteries and the Dawn of Christianity. Strachan takes these legends seriously, painting Jesus as a Druid.
Bear’s rendition doesn’t go that far. It is presented as fiction based on legend, but Bear’s research is exhaustive. Bear spins a tale of Jesus’ coming-of-age years based on the legend that encourages the reader to come to his or her own conclusions on how the cornerstone ideas of the Christian faith originated in the One we’ve accepted as Lord. The book is lightly tinged with pluralism, yet in all ways respectful of Christian beliefs; I’ve no reason to believe Bear isn’t a practicing Christian. His book brings myth and legend alive with meaning, speculating about how Jesus slowly began to piece together his mission in life. It’s also a well-researched glimpse into Roman oppression throughout the land, setting the scene for Jesus’ pacifistic opposition to the Empire.
In the story, Jesus develops a special relationship with the Father from a young age, but the Father’s ways are mysterious. Jesus contemplates his role as savior of the world and how the Father’s vision of the Messiah differs from the warrior figure Jesus envisioned; he learns what it means to be born again of the Spirit; he learns how to forgive and how to respect our differences. In short, readers of Bear’s novel witness the Making of the Lamb…the one who gave up his sword to die on the cross.
It’s a fascinating journey worth taking with the young Jesus. A book you won’t soon forget.