Christ Our Lord: Out of Egypt
by Anne Rice
When I think of the fact that Christ Our Lord: Out of Egypt is the only Anne Rice novel I've read to date, it always surprises me. Not only is Rice the sort of writer I often stumble across, but she's also been highly recommended by many readers whose opinions I trust. Her highly publicized return to her faith after many years as a very successful writer of horror ficiton seemed to sealt he deal for me – I finally made a point of reading something by Rice, and Christ Our Lord: Out of Egypt served as my first foray into her writing.
It did not disappoint. All the raving I've heard about Rice's writing is well deserved. She put together a very gripping fictionalized version of Jesus' boyhood. The tone, perspective, and pacing are obviously the work of a master story-teller. She knows her craft, and executes well. Her research into the world Jesus lived in showed up in various little touches and details, making for a reading experience that was as intellectually engaging as it was enjoyable.
Many (particularly Protestant) readers may not like Rice's choice to include apocryphal material. For me, it was not a distraction. I am well aware that the work purports to be fiction, and I think this material added to the character development.
What I enjoyed most in Christ Our Lord: Out of Egypt was the depiction of the problems that must have arisen for the adults who believed they were raising the Messiah. Even if they did not yet understand the doctrine of the Incarnation in the same way we do today, it must have been given tremendous pressure to raise a child one knew to be "the Lord's anointed." The differing (sometimes opposing) ideas about child-rearing that often cause conflict within families must have been intensified in such circumstances. How much did he know about his mission and identity when he was a child? How did his knowledge come about? How did he react to it? How would the adults around him have handled that?
Rice explores this asspect of Jesus' boyhood in a truly gripping way. It was, for me, the highlight of a novel that was enjoyable on many levels. It is a book I would definitely recommend, though I would remind readers who are sensitive to such things that it is a fictionalization – a telling of a story in a way that might feel, to some, like it is "taking liberties" with the material.
reviewed by Shelly Bryant ©2015