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Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: The Man Clothed in Linen by Robert Earle

Title: The Man Clothed in Linen
Author:Robert Earle
Publisher: MC Publishing
Publish Date: October 28, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You liked books like The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
What's the Story?:

From "The Man Clothed in Linen presents the grandeur of royal power before focusing on humbler kings and queens in dusty sandals. It explores the mysteries of the New Testament with the authenticity of history and the details of a realistic novel, easy to read and yet eerie in its echoes. Here, like the proverbial mustard seed, the smallest incident grows into the largest, world-changing event.

The Man Clothed in Linen answers age-old questions: Who was Jesus the boy, and then the man? What was he like? Who were his real friends and key followers-including many women--and avowed enemies? What caused John the Baptist to emerge and then be executed? What had Herod the Great and Rome done to ensure turmoil in Palestine, and what was the arrogant Pilate’s role in making things worse?

The Man Clothed in Linen begins with a virgin named Mary brought to King Herod’s sickbed to warm him. When Herod hears that the virgin is pregnant, he orders the child killed. Joanna the steward’s wife thwarts Herod’s order, only the first time she’ll play a key role in the unfolding drama.

In Herod’s last will, he names his less worthy son, Archelaus, as his successor so that Archelaus will bear the brunt of widespread discontent, clearing the way for the younger Antipas to gain the throne. Rome acquiesces, but when Palestine goes up in flames under Archelaus, Rome asserts itself not only by removing Archelaus from Jerusalem but also by limiting Herod Antipas to rule only Galilee and Peraea.

And there a man Herod Antipas once knew well, a childhood friend, emerges to criticize him. This is the Baptist. Beheading him does nothing to dispel the people’s disquiet, for soon thereafter the charmed boy who escaped Herod’s wrath appears. Jesus of Nazareth wisely begins threading a path between revolutionaries and zealots on the one side and supporters of the Temple and Rome on the other.

The battle thereafter is set: Pilate wants to control all of Palestine, Herod Antipas wants to reclaim the entirety of his father’s kingdom--not cede it to someone he suspects is his half-brother--and Jesus thinks Palestine is no more than a prelude to the ultimate conquest of the human heart.

Jesus’ vision, faith, and miracles emerge naturally but so does the tragic sacrifice he must make when neither Herod Antipas nor Pilate will spare him from the cross."

My Two Cents:

This is a really great read. Earle takes the idea that Jesus may have been born of King Herod after mother, Mary, is forced to lay with Herod as he lays very sick. The story is mostly seen though not told from the point of view of Nicolas, Herod's trusted adviser of sorts and an educated man of his time. Nicolas is fascinating because he is running right with all of the big names of the time. He crosses path with many of the most powerful people when that area between Rome and Jerusalem really was the center of the world

The book could really be divided into different books. There is the story of Herod and his wives and the possible conception of Jesus. There is the story of Nicolas in Rome as he crosses paths with King Juba and Selene, the daughter of Cleopatra. This was probably my favorite section, mostly because I am absolutely fascinated with anything about ancient Rome (or present day Rome for that matter - hah). The last story is that of Jesus and his life.  One thing I will say is the the timing of the different events in the first section was really difficult to follow. Some of the events regarding King Herod seem to flash back and forth between past and present and it was difficult to keep my place. The time becomes more linear as the book goes on so that issue is resolved later on.

This book definitely made me a little more interested in some of the bible personalities and stories that I don't know that much about. Even if you are not Christian or even not religious at all, I think this story can still be enjoyed as a straight historical fiction read. 


  1. I did like The Red Tent so I'd be curious about this one. Thanks for the great review Meg.


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