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John the Baptizer: A Novel

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  56 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Traditionally, John the Baptist is seen as little more than an opening act—“the voice crying in the wilderness”—in the great Christian drama. In presenting the epic of John’s life, novelist Brooks Hansen draws on an extraordinary array of inspirations, from the works of Caravaggio, Bach, and Oscar Wilde to the histories of Josephus, the canonical gospels, the Gnostic ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 24th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kevin Kazokas
Apr 28, 2013 Kevin Kazokas rated it really liked it
Certainly a religious scholar I am not, nor am I an astute student of the Bible or the Gospels. Because of that, this book captured my intrigue right from seeing it on the shelf. Why? I knew it would present a fascinating and not overly dogmatic account of the life of one of history's most unexplored, most secondary and most supporting of cast members.
The book went beyond fascinating. The account -- I hesitate to call it a story because somehow that seems to diminish its truthful relevance, but
...more
Mike
Jan 05, 2014 Mike rated it liked it
I loved The Chess Garden, but John the Baptizer just plodded. Not that you'd expect a novel about a figure like John to be a thriller, but this felt leaden. Lots of scholarship went into this book, and there are some interesting insights into John's character, but that doesn't save it. The dysfunctional Herod family is more interesting, but that isn't where Hansen's heart is.

John is a gnomic, elliptical character in the Bible, and trying to give him a narrative and the history, is a project tha
...more
Shelly Ann
Mar 16, 2015 Shelly Ann rated it did not like it
I know what the author was trying to do in this book. I just
don't like authors taking Biblical stories, and making it a
reality/fiction. It does not solely, go along with the details
of the Bible,nor of John the Baptists life. You cannot put into
"YOUR" story and take it away from the Bible, making things
up, it does not get people curious about reading the Bible.
It threw me off, and I refuse to read another book in this format.
Beth
Oct 13, 2009 Beth rated it did not like it
I had high hopes for reading this novel- I was so interested in getting an imaginary view of the life and character of John the Batpist. It was primarily full of the political intrigues of John's time. That would have been fine if made more simple and more of his life described but I felt I never got to know him.
Jsmith1000
Apr 26, 2011 Jsmith1000 rated it really liked it
So far, it's captivating. This is one of those books that sorta fell on me while I was at the library and got my attention that way. I'm glad I selected it.

It's a novel, of course, but it discloses an interesting view of the life of John the Baptist. It goes into the deeply spiritual learning, teaching, and experiences of John, and just makes me more interested in John the person, in addition to John the historic Biblical figure.

It isn't boring, either: that was a rough existence back in the da
...more
Roger
Mar 08, 2015 Roger rated it really liked it
This book was a pleasure to read. It deals creatively and fairly with some of the best questions surrounding the character of John the Baptist and, entertainingly enough, it raises questions that are interesting and deep.

Whether or not you have a solid background in the Christian Bible, this novel will take you down paths that, but for reading it, you may not have otherwise traversed. That, in and of itself, makes the reading worth it.

This is the first book I've read by this author, but I'm ce
...more
Rossrn Nunamaker
Dec 19, 2009 Rossrn Nunamaker rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, history, religion
I recently finished Brooks Hansen's John the Baptizer: A Novel. I think I expected more from this book than what I got.

The book tells the story of John beginning before his birth to set the tone for who is parents were and their role and it also tells the story of Herod and his family.

Often while reading, I felt the story was more about the Herod family and John's role in their life, rather than vice-versa.

The book moved along well enough, and even though the outcome was known before I picked up
...more
Anamae
Aug 18, 2012 Anamae is currently reading it
Although not yet finished, I like what I have read so far. I like that the author incorporated Roman Herodian history with the Judaic lore about John the Baptist. As a Pastor, I found the literary wisdom testing of John in the desert on pages 172-173 interesting enough to reference and quote in a sermon about Lady Wisdom. Will reserve the final rating until I finish the second half of the novel.
Kaijsa
Jan 28, 2011 Kaijsa rated it really liked it
I don't read a ton of historical fiction, but when I run across a good book in the genre I'm usually pretty happy. John the Baptizer was pretty entertaining and engrossing. It took me longer than usual to read because I kept wanting to look things up to either find out more about events or see if the book jibed with other accounts, plus I also dipped in and out of the bible a bit. It's very readable and Hansen did a good job bringing these people to life.
Marvin
Dec 11, 2010 Marvin rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
This unique novel is difficult for me to assess. It's thoroughly researched and fully immerses the reader in the world of John the Baptist and, in alternating chapters, the world of the court of Herod & Herodias, though of course from the author's own perspective since so little is really known objectively about John. The author takes spirituality very seriously, though not in an orthodox Christian sense. I appreciated it more than I enjoyed it.
Kevin
Aug 01, 2009 Kevin rated it really liked it
A book that is hard to capture in words. It is a wild mix of otherworldly and ascetic spirituality with crass power politics and debauchery.

Hansen brings this world alive to the point where you feel like you a reading a contemporary account rather than a novel. The prose sucks you in and pulls you forward despite knowing the conclusion from the start.

A powerful literary creation.
Michelle
Mar 30, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
I'd give this more of a 3.75 just because of the epilogue becoming preachy at the end...I think his discussion about the loss of the religious group in Iraq due to the war would've been better saved as an afterword.
Katherine Willis Pershey
Aug 31, 2009 Katherine Willis Pershey rated it it was amazing
I did not expect this to be so good. It was a little overly graphic about the Herodians' debauchery, but what a remarkable portrayal of John.

As far as historical-religious fiction goes, this is more akin to The Red Tent than the Da Vinci Code.
mandy
Dec 20, 2008 mandy marked it as to-read
Shelves: pre-pub-2009
"A biographical saga about, you guessed it, John the Baptist, drawing on both ancient and modern sources. Literary historical fiction. From Norton, June." from blog "Reading the Past"
Therese Pagano
Therese Pagano rated it really liked it
Oct 20, 2013
Matt Kuntz
Matt Kuntz rated it liked it
Apr 05, 2012
JeffBrowning
JeffBrowning rated it it was ok
Feb 29, 2016
Bea Cadigal
Bea Cadigal rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2013
Krister Axel
Krister Axel rated it really liked it
Feb 11, 2011
Meghan Krogh
Meghan Krogh rated it liked it
Sep 09, 2016
Paddy Healey
Paddy Healey rated it liked it
Jan 11, 2015
Jacqueline
Jacqueline rated it really liked it
Jul 03, 2014
Laura
Jan 24, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
Some very beautiful visuals of baptism....used the Bible often for fiction reality checks
Harvie
Harvie rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2011
E. D.  Watson
E. D. Watson rated it it was amazing
Dec 02, 2016
Hansdekok
Hansdekok rated it really liked it
Dec 04, 2009
Dona
Dona rated it did not like it
Jun 13, 2015
Young Prince Ali
Young Prince Ali rated it it was ok
Nov 03, 2014
Ameyer99
Ameyer99 rated it it was ok
May 10, 2012
Gabby
Gabby rated it liked it
Jul 25, 2011
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