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Under Tiberius    by Nick Tosches order for
Under Tiberius
by Nick Tosches
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Nick Tosches' novels all seem to be a bit over-the-top in some way, and Under Tiberius is no exception. Faith-filled readers will have hard going with this one; Tosches manages to turn everything known about Jesus Christ into a tale of greed and accident rather than divinely-inspired faith.

A Roman grandfather, Gaius, writes the story of his life for his grandson's eyes only. His life maxim has been to 'trust no man and trust no god.' He writes speeches for the emperor, but unfortunately is relieved of his position in Rome and sent to Judea to serve under Pontius Pilate, a situation quite beneath him. There he meets a 'dirty little half-shekel thief,' a Jew, with remarkable eyes. They discover a mutual longing for riches and a scheme to bring it about. By playing with the familiar tales from the Gospels and the Jewish longing for a Messiah, Tosches shows how they are able to amass a fortune from people wishing to build the 'new Temple.'

The story is very well written and follows Biblical incidents pretty faithfully, except that the characters are very differently portrayed. It is pretty hard to swallow what Tosches has done with Mary Magdalene and Lazarus. It is also pretty interesting how he plays with the relationship between Jesus and Gaius. Friends? Master and servant? Did Gaius, by giving Jesus sonorous lines, create someone who now bears true witness? There is much to ponder here.

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