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From the back cover:
No one knows the worries that weigh on Martha, the burden she has carried for seven years. The townspeople call her the holiest woman in Bethany, but Martha’s perfect reputation protects a secret that could destroy everyone she loves.
Only two men know the truth: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the strict Pharisee Martha is bound to marry. Lazarus’s only wish is to follow his cousin Jesus, but Simon will stop at nothing to ensure that Jesus is exposed as a fraud and blasphemer. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha must decide if she will send for Jesus to heal her brother, or defy Simon, who threatens to expose her shame. Must she remain bound in the tomb of secrets and watch her brother die?
On the southern shores of Galilee, a tortured man roams, possessed by a legion of demons. When Jesus frees him, he finds that seven years have passed since he promised to return to the woman who gave him her heart. He sets out for Bethany, hoping he is not too late to reclaim Martha’s love.
Full of doubt in the one her sister calls the Messiah, Martha risks all to send for Jesus. But will Jesus prove worthy of her trust, or will he — like the man she once loved — forsake her?
Biblical fiction — stories set during Bible times and using people from the Bible as characters — present an intriguing perspective on those familiar stories. I know many choose not to read Biblical fiction because they don’t want the stories to become confused in their minds, or to allow the imaginings of the author to influence their own interpretation of the Biblical events. I certainly respect that.
Personally, I appreciate the research the authors do in order to help “flesh out” those people and times. Understanding the culture better, and stopping to consider what the daily life might have been like for different people in the Bible, is helpful to me. However, it does require maintaining a separation in my mind between the truth of the Biblical account and the artistic liberties taken by the author.
That said, The Tomb is a well-written story of Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus. What if…? What would Martha’s life have looked like? We know that she was troubled by many things and kept herself busy, but we don’t know exactly what weighed on her shoulders. The Tomb creates a story for Martha that, while fiction, helps imagine what could have been going on in her world.
Martha could have faced stresses much like those we face today. Or they may have been different. Whether we’ve been exactly where she was or not, we all have certainly been weighed down at times by the loads we bear. She struggled (hypothetically) to put her trust in Jesus and release her burden — haven’t we been there?
If you appreciate an opportunity to imagine those mentioned in the Bible as real flesh-and-blood people, you’ll want to check out The Tomb and imagine what Martha might have been like.
(I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts expressed here are entirely my own.)