Book review: The Galilean

by Tom Colgan


A play, well-written and well-acted, should first and foremost touch the heart. This one does. Yet, imagination is always necessary when reading plays; its appreciation depends upon the reader’s ability to soak up the poetic speech and hear it from the lips of imaginary stage actors. That’s how Colgan’s writing comes alive.

The story opens in an age of great expectation. John the Baptist fuels the apocalyptic fire of his followers, teaching them to watch for the arrival of the Messiah. Everybody knows something is about to happen. Something big, something God has planned from the beginning. God is about to intervene in history.

Enter Jesus, the Galilean. A man who, two thousand years later, everyone knows by legend, but nobody knows as a person. Colgan, a former Methodist minister who brings sixteen years of research into the Historical Jesus, offers a realistic, yet inspiring portrayal. In his mind, Jesus was a Jew with a radical vision, a deep longing to revitalize his nation to a new way of thinking. A way of compassion. Jesus teaches love for everyone; sinner, sickly, and saint.

While everyone watches for God’s big intervention, Jesus wonders if everyone is missing it. What a pity if God’s great transformation goes unnoticed? Jesus seeks to bring God down from heaven and make Him accessible to the multitudes. But his vision clashes with the institutionalized religion of the Temple class.

A showdown is coming, and the disciples fear for Jesus’ safety. But Jesus fears not death; he fears something else entirely. The Galilean will leave you wondering, quite seriously, whether Jesus’ greatest fear came to pass … and what can be done to set things right.

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