Let me engage in some familial nepotism. My father is an extremely talented artist. Growing up, he was always writing some novel, painting, or working a bronze sculpture. We were encouraged to pursue whatever creative impulses we had at the moment, and there were plenty of them!
My father recently published one of those novels he’d worked on during my childhood. In some ways, it’s like another sibling. It was almost published by a major evangelical publishing house (I won’t name them), but it floundered on a legalistic policy they have about Biblical references in fiction.
The novel is, in fact, the life of Christ told from the point of view of a wild dog who starts following Peter around (who tosses him the occasional fish). Obviously, you have to make up a few things that aren’t literally in the Bible in order to stay consistent with a dog’s point of view. What is remarkable is how my father never broke away from the dog’s point of view (this was remarked upon by a college professor who read the book). Although this limits us to what a dog would understand about Biblical events, I found it a stimulating exercise to try and remember what events were being described.
This novel helped me see Jesus through new eyes … through a dog’s eyes. Jesus smells of wood, thus the title. Judas is named “Metalman” because he carried the money-bag. Because the author tells us so little, at the human level, our other senses are awakened to hear, smell, and taste 1st century Palestine. I especially enjoyed how the demoniacs were called “Donkeymen”. What other category would a dog have to put braying people in?
In particular, the crucifixion scene was quite powerful. We’re so familiar with the story, we forget how the scene would have reeked of blood, sweat, and screams.
Now, of course I’m biased, but my parents encouraged us to read non-stop, so I think I know a good book from a bad one (coupled with a few years teaching literature). Although there are so many books, and so little time, check out Treeman.
You can also get a brief preview here.