What if your brother was the most controversial figure in the history of the world and your job was to protect him? That’s the challenge faced by the Rabbi James of Jerusalem — whom the Bible identifies as “the brother of the Lord” — in MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, an inspired retelling of the Christian story by author Bill Kassel.
What can James do to fulfill a deathbed promise to his father, Joseph, and save Jesus, the Nazarene prophet who is stirring contention among the Jewish religious leadership and the Roman occupiers?
The only hope of keeping his brother from a gruesome death is James’ cordial relationship with the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who turns to him for guidance in matters of Jewish law and custom. Indeed, Pilate views James with the utmost respect, even seeing him as a possible successor to the corrupt high priest, Caiaphas.
Protecting Jesus becomes the consuming focus of James’ life as his brother runs afoul of the temple authorities, and Zealot rebels attempt to exploit his popularity — their goal to foment a revolution against the hated Romans. But can even such a widely admired man of honor and learning as James calm the fears of change stirred by Jesus and his movement? Who can counter the forces of politics, greed and corruption that loom over a First-Century Palestine ready to explode?
Inspired by writings handed down from the earliest days of Christianity, MY BROTHER’S KEEPER tracks the lives of individuals instantly recognizable as religious/cultural icons. But it presents new insights into who those people were, how they lived, and what was going on around them.
The book paints a rich portrait of James, youngest son of the widowed carpenter and builder, Joseph of Nazareth. It reveals how the teenage Mary is placed into Joseph’s care, and relates the perilous circumstances under which Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt with her newborn son to escape the murderous King Herod.
As the story unfolds, we follow James’ adventures through the intrigues of Jerusalem. We watch him train under the great sage, Hillel, to become a rabbi; play a key role in reform efforts within the Sanhedrin; and fall in love with the beautiful Avigail who shares his passion for knowledge and Jewish tradition.
Years later — now a famous scholar and counselor known as James the Just — James attempts to forge a link with Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, in anticipation of having to intercede for his brother. But controversy continues to build around the spiritual mission Jesus has launched. And despite James’ desperate struggle, the political maneuvering by religious and civil leaders puts intense pressure on Pilate, making Jesus’ crucifixion inevitable.
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER is an imaginative and riveting historical/religious novel in the tradition of such bible-based classics as Ben Hur, The Robe, and The Silver Chalice. It offers a sweeping vision of a nation at its tipping point — a proud and ancient people facing economic stress, political division, and the specter of radicalism and violence, conditions not unlike those of our own time. This is a sprawling tale with a fresh and compelling perspective on Jesus and his family that will make you reconsider the story that’s at the very heart of Western Civilization.