A bit of a retro review today (this book was published in 2001); The Third Day tells a similar story to that I’m planning at the moment for NaNoWriMo, so I’ve pulled it out to make sure I avoid inadvertantly re-telling the same story.
And it is, if we’re honest, an oft-told story; many stories exist in the Christian and mainstream markets which have the protagonist travelling back in time to witness some Biblical event. This is one of only a couple that I have actually read, but that shouldn’t take anything away from how good it is.
It’s a good Christian novel, an exploration of faith, showing a slightly different perspective of incidents in the gospels; it’s also a great time travel story, as the protagonists play their part in the gospel story, they begin to wonder how much of established Biblical truth they are changing, distorting, or even creating.
Thomas Ford, a devout believer and teacher of religious studies, and Mariam Roberts, born a Muslim, married to a Christian, now just a jaded sceptic, are brought together in the most improbable circumstances, and find themselves sent into the past, and given the chance to meet Jesus face to face.
I thought the time travel aspect was well handled, and rather than just being an excuse to explore Jesus’ life through 21st Century eyes, the potential problems it brings with it are integral to the unfolding story.
There is also space to ponder the philosophical and theological implications of time travel – something I hope to do, from a different perspective, this NaNo. In this story at least, God certainly allows time travel; He may even be the one that brings it about.
Jesus himself is portrayed as very human; vulnerable at times, as if he feels out of depth with the task he’s been given. Meeting God in all his human weakness has a profound effect on both Thomas and Mariam, which, combined with the twisting paradoxes they find themselves entwined with, makes for a fantastic story.
As it says in the blurb:
Experience Jesus of Nazareth again for the first time. And be prepared for the unexpected.