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Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  24,230 Ratings  ·  544 Reviews
An unforgettable account of betrayal, revenge, redemption, Ben-Hur tells the tale of a nobleman who fell from Roman favor & was sentenced to live as a slave--all at the hands of his childhood friend, Messala. Once nearly brothers, any hope of reconciliation is dashed as Ben-hur vows revenge.
Running in parallel with Ben-Hur's narrative is the unfolding story of Jesus,
Hardcover, The World's Best Reading, 558 pages
Published December 31st 1992 by The Reader's Digest Association (first published 1880)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Vane J.
Is not his the law, Eye for eye, hand for hand, foot for foot? Oh, in all these years I have dreamed of vengeance, and prayed and provided for it, and gathered patience from the growing of my store, thinking and promising, as the Lord liveth, it will one day buy me punishment of the wrong-doers?

Who's in for a revenge tale set in the first century a.C.?

Ben-Hur is a man who's perfectly happy. He has a mother and a sister who love him, and he's friends with a Roman, and that puts him in a positio

"Out of that vast tomb Christianity issued to supersede the Caesars."

Ben Hur is one of those classic works better recognised for its many adaptations. To this end it seems fair to compare it to another highly similar work - Les Miserables. Both are classic historical fiction works which use history to spread themes and ideas about humanity as a whole. Both novels also regularly divert from the storytelling to provide detailed insights into history. This is perhaps where Ben Hur is stronger tha
Christian McKay
The first sign that I should not have read this book was the discrepancy in hours between the abridged and unabridged versions on audible. Unabridged: 21 hours, Abridged: 3 hours. I bought it anyway and soon discovered why. There's about 15% story and 85% fluff in Ben Hur. It is, hands down, the best argument for editing I have ever read.

For example, there was a section in the beginning where two men embraced. That's all we need to know, right? No, no. Of course not. We have to hear that they t
Dec 12, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing I want to address is the “speed” of this book. I first read this book in the fall or winter of 1971, and at that time, as a high school senior, I was well-accustomed to reading Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and all those other authors of the Victorian era (and before!) Back then, I read one Shakespeare play every year for high school English literature (with support from my friends and the teacher!), and had even slogged through the assigned portions of Beowulf. That ...more
Rebecca L. Snowe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrei Tamaş
Dec 17, 2015 Andrei Tamaş rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Indiscutabil cel mai bun roman despre începuturile răspândirii creștinismului, declarat ca o scriere care, între sfârșitul secolului XIX și începutul secolului XX, a adus "religiei lui Cristos" un uriaș aport de adepți.
Prin 2012 văzusem filmul (o peliculă cu Charlton Heston), apoi, plimbându-mă prin bibliotecă și neștiind ce să aleg (era în era când încă nu-mi desăvârşisem interesele), tot uitându-mă prin colecția de la Adevărul, am dat cu ochii de titlul acesta și-mi adusesem aminte că filmul
Went to a BYU education week class on finding good books to read. A woman in the class recommended this one. One of her favorites. I look forward to reading it and then watching the movie which Sally has highly recommended.
I loved this story. It was a bit of a challenge in the beginning. There is a lot of detailed description of clothing, customs, etc. Wallace addressed the reader and would try to put you in the location he was describing. It took some patience, but I began to really enjoy it.
David Sarkies
Apr 01, 2014 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to David by: Charlton Heston
Shelves: historical
One man's search for redemption
27 July 2010

Needless to say that the book is much better than the movie, and when it comes to Ben Hur, that is definitely saying something. While the famous scenes in the movie are replicated from the book (that being the chariot race and the sea battle), there is much more to the book than there is to the movie (though the theme is the same in both). The book is actually called Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It may seem that Christ is only a bit part in the book
May 27, 2013 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading the book, I had the pleasure of watching the 1959 film. So, whilst reading the book, I found myself constantly comparing it to the film. There are so many differences! The book, like most, have a lot more backstory and character development than in the film.
Two of the characters that stood out to me in difference from the film the most where: Tirzah (Judah Ben Hur's Sister) and Quintus Arrius (Judah's Step-father). To me both book versions where way better than what was portrayed
Mar 10, 2016 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Second reading - Lent 2016. Absolutely better on the second reading.

What American is unaware of the Charlton Heston chariot race? It is absolutely iconic. In Anne of Green Gables, Anne is caught reading Ben Hur during lessons but couldn't put it down because of the intensity of the chariot race.

Most Americans have grown up with at least a passing exposure to the Hollywood epic of Ben Hur and therefore will find the text to be surreal and disorienting at first and then much richer than the belo
Rachel N
Jul 15, 2008 Rachel N rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
INCREDIBLE! I found this book to be on the same par as Les Miserables. The story begins with the birth of the Christ Child and a detailed depiction of the journey of the Three Wise Men (what could have happened), and ends with the Crucifixion of Jesus. In between these two world changing events is the story of a man (Ben Hur) from a wealthy family who is deeply betrayed by a Roman friend. He ends up in the bowels of a ship as an oarsman – a grueling job. Ben Hur’s life journey is described in gr ...more
Feb 04, 2012 Bogdan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-world
One of the best historical novels I ever read. It is definitively a masterpiece of the genre together with Sienkewicz's Quo Vadis. I love it and I can recommend it to everyone that would like to read a decent historical novel.
The only bad thing is about the edition from Adevarul that I had. It had several typos and also some pages where the content is printed slightly to the right or to the left of the page. In the end, you can read it well from the respective edition, but definitively such thin
Oct 17, 2013 Daron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit that I like the movie starring Charlton Heston better than the book, but maybe that's only because I viewed it a dozen times before reading the original story. The book is VERY long, with rich descriptions that are almost purple prose at times. But don't take my mention of the descriptive narrative as a huge downside to the story. If you can be patient with it, the story is actually quite good. As you experience the tale, you should reflect on the time period when Ben Hur was writte ...more
Apr 03, 2009 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably one of the worst books I've read in a long time, and it's the only one I can think of whose movie adaptation was actually better. For one thing, it was incredibly long, which would have been fine if it weren't for the fact that there seemed to be entirely too much extraneous information that was written in in order to satisfy the author's devotional mindset. And for another, the book is sorely lacking in the historical accuracy department. I don't mind if there are minor details ...more
Mary JL
Dec 15, 2013 Mary JL rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Christian or Historical fiction
Shelves: fiction-classics
Written in 1880, this excellent historical novel still has much to offer the modern reader.

The story is familiar to anyone who who has seen the movie--Ben Hur is sent to the galleys as a slave; he save the Roman commander; the great chariot race and so on.

But, as is usally the case, for me, the book is SO much better. There is a lot in the book that is not shown in the movie. I find the wealth of historical detail fascinating. And a lot of details about the characters enriches the story for me.
Sep 26, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homeschool-lit
"It is finished."

That is, the book, and the life.

But it has only begun.

Definitely a slow, long book with many many details that were painful to wade through. But all in all, it's a fantastic story. Just...don't try to read it any quicker than two or three weeks. Give it time and get through it in 20-40 page chunks. Let it sink in, and you won't regret it.

Despite all my complaints about how long and dull sections of this are, I did enjoy the story as a whole quite a bit. Good job, Mr. Lew Wallac
Nov 26, 2014 Afshar rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب های زیادی در مورد دوران اولیه مسیحیت نوشته شده
مثل کجا میروی هنریک سینکویچ
که این کتاب هم به این سبک نوشته شده
اما آن کجا و این کجا!!!
نمیدانم اطلاعات تاریخیش چقد صحت دارد
ولی بنظرم از لحاظ ادبی ضعیف است
از ان دست کتاب ها که حسابی از خواندنش پشیمان شدم
بنظرم بعضی کتابا فقط جنبه تجاری دارند
و برای فروش آن، رواحساسات مذهبی مردم حساب ویژه ای باز کرده اند
مثل کتاب هایی که از شما خواهش میکنند ثروتمند شوید
که رو حس جاه طلبی انسان ها حساب باز میکند
Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been years since I read this. It was slow going in some places - my problem with writers of the past. Overall, the book was great, but it was a 'read once' for me.
Jun 16, 2015 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prior to reading this book the title "Ben Hur" brought back some foggy memories of watching the movie when I was young. I remembered chariot races and worrying about the pretty horses getting hurt.

Only last year did I discover the rest of the title---A Tale of the Christ and with it the rest of the story. After reading several glowing reviews I decided it would be the perfect book to start in December so I did. It took me until March to finish reading it.

I found the beginning of the book to be
Sharon Powers
May 12, 2015 Sharon Powers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Book Review by:Sharon Powers.

Ulysses S. Grant sat to read the new novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The words of the book soon caught his imagination and he was unable to escape. He couldn't put the book down, and so, mesmerized, he continued to sit and read. Abandoning all responsibilities and his family, he immersed himself in the pages of Lew Wallace's book. He sat reading. For thirty straight hours, the Great General of the Civil War, leader o
"Ben Hur" is a novel in the style of the historical epic format that was popular in the late 19th Century. Written by Lew Wallace, a General in the Union Army during the Civil War, the novel is an attempt for Wallace to connect to Christ using the worldview of a soldier. Set in Ancient Rome, it's the story of Judah Ben Hur, a Jewish nobleman who is swept up in the Jewish insurgency that was on the rise in the time of Christ. Ben Hur becomes a slave on a Roman Galley, and during a naval battle he ...more
Oct 12, 2010 Tori rated it really liked it
Revenge. It is a strong word with harsh implications. How far will some people go for Revenge? Where will they be satisfied? At death?
Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur is an epic book of an amazing tale of one man's misfortune, revenge, and his search for the family he lost.
When an unfortunate accident sends Judah Ben-Hur to the galleys, the world counts him as dead. Providence, however, was guiding his life. He was not only freed from his chains, but made rich and trained in the Roman ways of war.
Even thou
May 03, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book, if you have the patience. Lots of chapters exist just to give historical background, so don't expect something as fast-paced as the movie version; however, some parts of this book are simply amazing. The chariot race is one of the most exciting passages in all of literature (George Lucas' pod race can't even touch it), and the passages about leprosy are some of the most heart-rending. It also does a great job of painting a clear picture of who exactly Jesus was, as well as showing ...more
I had to put this on hold while working on my doula certification. Just trying to be realistic. I have enjoyed what I have read, the literary prose are amazing, and look forward to delving in to this book whole heartedly when I get the chance.

Update: 1/14
I love this book! I loved the reality of Christ as a personal Savior contrasting the militant savior that the people were looking for. I love that Christ was exactly what He needed to be for each character at just the right moment. How many time
Abandoned. Summary so far: A young Jewish Prince, Judah Ben Hur, accidentally injures a Roman officer in Jerusalem and, as this is seen as an assassination attempt, he is sent to the galleys. Ironically, his former childhood friend Messala, an ambitious Roman, is involved in the arrest. On the way to the galley, Judah encounters the son of a carpenter, who gives him a drink of water. After three years on the galleys (about which we hear next to nothing), Judah rescues Arrius, a powerful Roman, f ...more
Jul 25, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey
From BBC radio 4 Extra:
Adapted from the novel by Lew Wallace. With Jamie Glover.

1/4: A Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by his Roman soldier friend. Epic tale starring Jamie Glover and Samuel West.

2/4: Freed from slavery, the prince encounters his old enemy Messala.

3/4: The prince and his former friend Messala try to exact brutal revenge on each other.

4/4: After the prince's victory in the chariot race, news arrives of his mother and sister

A movie was made based on this book: Ben-
Dorothy Bandusky
Jan 16, 2016 Dorothy Bandusky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When people imagine a revenge story, usually they imagine excitement, suspense, and intense emotion will be just a few of the features offered. If you value those qualities in a novel, stay away from this one.

Much of the dialogue sounds forced and melodramatic. Characters pontificate at length where just a few words would suffice. In fact, this issue plagues the novel as a whole. Upon finally permanently turning each page, the reader realizes with annoyance just how much information is extraneou
Apr 12, 2010 Joey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Lew Wallace did an excellent job bringing his readers to the first century A.D. I loved reading about all the customs, cultures, and ways of the ancient world. This classic wonderfully weaves a great story with Biblical accounts of Jesus, such as healings and the Crucifixion. I enjoyed this immensely and it is far better than the Hollywood version, which changed major plot lines. Everyone, especially Christians, should read this.
Mar 21, 2016 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has a very slow start but book eight makes it worth slogging through to get to the final book.
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Lewis "Lew" Wallace was a lawyer, governor, Union general in the American Civil War, American statesman, and author, best remembered for his historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

From Civil War Biography:

Although he would have much preferred to be remembered as a highly successful military hero, Lew Wallace has been thwarted in this ambition and is best known as an author. Born in Indian
More about Lew Wallace...

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“Riches take wings, comforts vanish, hope withers away,but love stays with us. Love is God.” 43 likes
“The happiness of love is in action; its test is what one is willing to do for others.” 24 likes
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