The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury
Many readers have fallen in love with Karen Kingsbury and her many, many books and series. I cannot recollect picking up one of her titles until now. Her previous titles were set in modern times with modern themes. I typically read historical fiction. The Family of Jesus is one of her newest titles and it is historical fiction. It's also a creative insight to Bible stories.
Kingsbury created a book that follows the life a Jesus through the eyes of His relatives. Kingsbury's timeline for this book goes from Mary and Joseph's betrothal to Jesus death and resurrection. The order of individual is Joseph (Jesus' stepfather), Zechariah (father of John the Baptist who is Jesus' cousin), John the Baptist (Jesus cousin), Elizaeth (mother of John the Baptist who is Jesus' cousin), James (step-brother of Jesus), and Mary (mother of Jesus).
The moments shared between the people in Jesus' life overlap a little, but Kingsbury wove a start to finish story. Joseph relays his betrothal to Mary, angel visits, Jesus birth, and Jesus visit to the temple when he was 12. Zechariah shares his lot during Passover, the angel visit, John's birth, and John's life before his step into ministry. John the Baptist talks about his ministry, his cousin Jesus, and his arrest by the king. Elizabeth bares the pain of John's death with Zechariah and the blessing of a visit from cousin Mary (Jesus' mother). James' reflects on the craziness of his brother Jesus and His strange ministry to say that He is the son of God. James follows him all the way to the Crucifixion. Mary concludes the short stories with her knowledge of the Messiah, her son. She follows him until the end - Jesus' death and resurrection from the dead.
Listeners (and readers) keep in mind that Kingsbury anchored her storytelling in the Bible. She placed moment in the Bible first in her timeline, when wove a story around those moments. It's not a question of did it happen, but could it have happened. I believe that her goal was to give listeners (and readers) a deeper understand about the people in the Bible - how they might have felt, what trials they were going through, how they relied on each other and loved each other. These short stories are perfect to hear (or read) and reflect upon.
These stories were meant for a Bible study series, either personally or in a group. MP3 files of the Bible study are available on the last disc. I would have preferred pdf files to print off the Bible study, but my copy was an audiobook copy. I'm not sure if they could add pdf files to an audio disc or if the publisher would have needed to add an additional disc to the collection. Perhaps on the next collection they can investigate printable files...
All in all this was a very fast and very enjoyable listen. The stories reminded me of a mix between the 1980's You Are There dramatized Bible stories and Adventure in Odyssey Bible retellings which I grew up enjoying. If you are of fan of dramatized Bible stories, I would highly recommend this book. I think it would be a very interesting Bible study series with a group of friends as well.
Two narrators shared the stories from The Family of Jesus. Kirby Heyborne represented the four males and January LaVoy represented the two females. I have heard Heyborne before, but LaVoy was a new narrator for me. I enjoyed Heyborne's renditions of the various Bible characters. He had a serious, straight forward approach with caring in his voice. Each voice was slightly different, but nothing too exaggerated. It was very pleasant.
LaVoy's voice came across a bit more forceful. Mary and Elizabeth were fine and had different vocal qualities, so the listeners could sense the difference of age between the cousins. Her male voices came off strange. They sounded forced in way that LaVoy's range didn't reach that far down on the scale. I understand the difficulty of narrating male voices, so it is what it is.
I'll be interested to see who narrates the following books in the Life-Changing Bible Study series. The next book is set come out in Summer 2015. I'm looking forward to it!
Reviewed from an Audiobook Jukebox copy. Thank you, Simon & Schuster Audio!
Audio Book Details...
The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury
Series: Book 01 Life-Changing Bible Study Series
Read by Kirby Heybourne and January LaVoy
Produced by Simon & Schuster Audio
Number of Discs: 5
Total Time: 6 hours