Mary, by Sholem Asch; Why Jesus Died, by Pierre van Paassen
The third novel which Sholem Asch has devoted to the story of the birth of Christianity is a document which, at the very least, has the fascination of complexity. But in the worlds of art and religion, unlike that of biology, no special virtue adheres to the hybrid.
Considered merely as a novel, this volume is composed of many diverse elements which simply fail to jell into any aesthetic unity. One of the reasons for this failure may be that it was produced over a long span of years, having been first conceived some forty years ago and then set aside for the writing of The Nazarene and The Apostle. The former attempted the useful task of presenting the story of Jesus from three points of view—those of the Romans, the Pharisees, and Jesus himself—and its recreation of the mature Yeshua was much more successful than the shadowy figure who appears in Part Three of Mary. The Apostle, despite a vast historic canvas which covered the entire ancient world, was unified by the figure of Paul and the central theme of the struggle between paganism and Christianity.
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