Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana
(Borzoi-Knopf-Random House Books)
Citation: Rice, Anne. Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. New York:Borzoi-Knopf-Random House Books.
Reading Level (choose all that apply): Young Adult / Parent / Adult
Comments: The Road to Cana is the second biblically-based novel in Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord series, released in April, 2008. It is indeed a novel, but Rice respectfully embellishes Gospel episodes and interweaves them with new story lines. The book richly explores Jesus as young adult, struggling himself with the mystery of being both human and divine. Rice’s style is inviting and easy to read. Using Jesus as narrator, Rice gently coaxes the reader into Jesus’ interior world of thoughts and dreams. Rice is gifted in engaging the reader’s senses presenting sights, sounds, fragrances, tastes and textures in imaginative ways, bringing the reader into intimate contact with her story world. Although a scripture-based novel has the potential to distort or overshadow the Word itself, Rice does a responsible job of lifting up the light of the Word, albeit on a newly imagined lampstand.
Author Biography: Is Anne Rice of vampire novel fame really a Catholic writer? After 38 years of atheism and a string of bestselling vampire novels, Rice returned to the Catholic Church in 1998. In 2002 she consecrated her writing to Christ which set the stage for her Christ the Lord series. The newly released novel is the second of four planned volumes. The first, Out of Egypt, traced the Gospels from the birth narrative to the Holy Family returning from Egypt. The new release expands on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism and several months on either side. Two other volumes are anticipated: the third will deal with Jesus’ ministries and the final will concentrate on passion, resurrection and ascension. Her approach to the scriptures is creative but not cavalier; she credits Cardinal Walter Kaspar’s Jesus the Christ (Paulist Press, 1978) as a primary influence. Additional information is available about Rice and the book series at her website, www.annerice.com.
Plot Summary: In the opening chapters the reader is brought into the chaos of Nazareth as seen through Jesus’ eyes. Three plot elements are introduced: a devastating drought, a Roman act of desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem, and inter-village tensions associated with a 15 year-old neighbor’s daughter, Avigail. Jesus and Avigail are close friends and, as the plot unfolds, Jesus must confront his feelings about her. As the first two plot elements are resolved, the village hears of the ministry of John the Baptist and many decide to go and see for themselves, including Jesus. This leads to interesting scenes surrounding Jesus’ baptism, and leads further to Jesus’ interior experience of his 40 days in the wilderness and temptation. Subsequently events unfold which lead to Mary Magdalene’s healing and the calling of the first disciples. The book reaches its climax with Avigail’s wedding in Cana which Jesus plays a large part in arranging. Jesus’ miracle in Cana marks an end to his inner conflict about Avigail and sets an important milepost on his journey.
1. Rice projects her own ideas of how Jesus might have come to grips with his humanity and divinity. How does she see this happening? Does this make sense? Are there other possible scenarios?
2. Did the author go too far in suggesting that Jesus initially had some degree of romantic feelings for Avigail?
3. One of the two characteristics that makes a Gospel a Gospel is that it contains an account of Jesus’ baptism. (Passion and resurrection is the other) Read the Gospel accounts in Matthew 3: 1-17, Mark 1: 1-11, Luke 3: 1-22, John 1: 6-34. Are there differences among them? Are there differences with respect to Rice’s account?
4. The author has extensively studied the social context of the New Testament world. What examples of daily life do you find interesting or surprising?
5. Describe the relationship between the Jews and their Roman occupiers. Are all Romans portrayed negatively?
6. The author rightly recognizes that Jesus likely had an impressive command of Old Testament texts. Can you cite some examples where she freely intersperses words or phrases from the Psalms or other books into Jesus’ thoughts or dialog?
7. Read the brief Gospel accounts of the calling of the disciples in Matthew 4: 18-22, Mark 1: 16-22, Luke 5: 1-11, John 1: 35-42. How do they compare with each other and to Rice’s account?
8.The only Gospel account of the wedding at Cana is in John 12: 1-12. Describe similarities and differences with Rice’s story line.
9. What other Gospel miracles and stories does the book describe or remind you of?
10. n what ways does this book encourage the reader to come to deeper levels of understanding of the person of Jesus Christ?
11. Did the imposition of the created story lines add or detract from your understanding of the Gospel accounts?
12. Is the author effective in making the reader confront the mystery and paradox of the humanity and divinity of Jesus? How did she stretch your understanding?
Prepared By: Craig George
Date: August 2008