Sunday, February 19, 2012
The Man Clothed In Linen
The Man Clothed in Linen
Author: Robert Earle
There are many different outlooks on just that Jesus was, his early life, what he accomplished and his relationship with Mary Magdalene, the church and his disciples. There are many questions that come to mind when we hear his name, try to understand his life and create in your mind the man you think he was. The Man Clothed in Linen is a story that answers many unanswered questions/ who was he? Who were his followers and who loved him and those that hated him? A discussion ensues between Malthace Herod’s wife and Nicolas discussing the succession to the throne and why she feels Archelaus, is the one become King after Herod dies. Although he is the oldest son his attributes do not mirror a King nor does he have the qualities that his younger brother Antipas has that would make him a stronger ruler. Nicolas’s original companion was Jonah who no longer lives in the palace due to differences maintained in his community. Being a strict and suspicious sect he realized that Herod would not change his mind about having him there and Joan was a great presence in the palace. Nicolas was a philosopher and a historian, which holds no power with the Essenes. Rome is friends to Israel and the king defers to Rome.
The story begins with this discussion preceded with a short introduction telling of Herod’s illness, his inability to get warm and what is needed to help him create some body heat and warmth. When blankets do not heed any warmth and the hot cloths fail another solution is suggested. The story moves forward to a discussion between Nicolas and Malthace and both express their concerns for the throne and who both feel should succeed Herod. Then the story comes back to Herod. But, Joanna has her own thoughts on how to get things done and so does Nicolas as they get Mary from Bethlehem to warm the King which seems to not only rejuvenate his body but his mind too. Relating a disturbing dream about an eagle to Nicolas lets the reader know that Herod bases many of his thoughts and decisions on anything Roman including wanting an Eagle placed over the temple as protection. Visions enter his dreams about his first wife, exiling her and how he came to love Miriam and her betrayals. Having her hanged and reliving it in his mind plus seeing her in his dreams was not the only thing that made Herod delusional and paranoid. Added to that he summons his two sons to decide which will inherit the throne and which will not. However, the discussion between Antipas and his older son reveals more about their personalities both positive and negative. One would wager his life against all odds where the other would think before acting. Which one becomes King and what happens remains to be seen.
In Herod’s final act or will he decides to name Archelaus as the next King even though his other son is more worthy. Herod seems controlled by Rome and what happens in his Kingdom creates more wars and strife in Palestine. Told in the words of Nicolas and from his point of view the author relates how he tutored Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s children, served faithfully as an advisor to King Herod and then his two sons in Israel and played an integral role as advisor to the Roman Emperor Augustus.
The story continues as Herod puts Nicolas on the spot and asks him to state what makes him a great ruler. Added to that Herod spends much of his time creating more palaces, more buildings and enlists Nicolas to create a biography of Augustus in time for his visit. Trying to make Herod understand that Augustus is not a god but a son of a god even though his thoughts go on deaf ears. There are many others included in this section of the book, as Ptolemy is the one building these structures to Herod’s specifications. Explaining that as a great king he would build. So having hanging gardens, palaces, roads, cities and ports for people to use and enjoy was his quest. Requiring Nicolas to come up with the solution was his solution. Herod only wanted to be titled Herod the Great at all costs. Ptolemy’s engineers created a platform with walls 150 feet high. Tons of gold, silver and bronze used. Requiring Nicolas to create this biography of Augustus was not a pleasurable task. When Herod questioned both of his sons asking each questions on created more difficulty, as he wanted both to tell him of his most crucial moments. How could Antipas remind him of his father and brother’s deaths? Telling him what he wanted to hear using humor and imitating his impatience with Nicolas and retelling many stories related to Nicolas. When the older son relates his take on his father he tells his favorite story but not the right one. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes are made and the wrong person is chosen even though they are wrong for the position as we learn when Herod makes his decision.
However, things were to heat up when Joanna tells Herod that Mary is pregnant. Thinking that it was impossible for Herod to father a child what will they do and how will they handle it? So, who reveals the truth to him and what will be her fate? What role does Joanna play in the cover up? Why do they claim both mother and child are dead? While his emissaries confirmed the death of Mary and her child, Herod needed to decide on a successor. Asking Nicholas to write to Augustus before he dies explaining the plight of a king. But, what he does as a result of his madness or lack of thought is name his older son to be king hoping that Antipas will ascend to the throne when his older son fails. This would be will number 7. When learning of his fate and that he would be King instead of taking it, as a grownup he stated was silly, acted self-centered and pompous. Not exactly the traits of a King. Not thinking of the gravity of the position only the pomp and circumstance that it would afford him. Plus what about his younger brother and how would he react? Poor Antipas would now be called Prince and his job to collect taxes, supervise public word and keep order: title: Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. Making Archelaus thrilled that he would rule over him. Herod died and the funeral would be lavish. Questioning Nicolas about his brother learns that he is mourning their father. Dealing with his new role as King he even agrees to see his mother upon the advice of Nicolas. Yet, would he succeed and what kind of King did he want to be. There were some that even missed Herod even though he was evil and mean. Further strife and it was decided that without the blessing of Augustus no one would be king.
We now move to section two Rome where Nicolas receives a letter from Joanna learning about the Temple, what Archelaus has unleashed on Jerusalem and angered by Rome’s tax collector who came to audit Herod’s treasure and there were riots everywhere. Joanna now works for her husband and aids in his private business as does Antipas who is her husband’s steward. Her assessment of her husband quite telling and revealing and her hopes for Antipas said.
Many Jews spoke to Augustus Caesar hoping that the Romans would rule them directly. Describing in vivid detail the horrors that befell them as the hand of Herod. Augustus decision was not quite what Nicolas expected as he would name Archelaus Ethnarch of the Jews and Master of Judea and Samaria but not King and Antipas the Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea.
The author describes Nicolas’s relationship with Augustus and meeting with Timeagnes who icy countenance brought chills to his chest as they discussed the fate of Rome as he receives another letter from Joanna requesting his help to save them from what Archelaus is doing to Herod’s kingdom. The author describes his life in Rome, his conflicts and then return to help Antipas who came in person instead of Joanna and what Nicolas promises him will definitely surprise the reader.
From the wonders of many palaces to Herod’s court the author takes the reader inside the minds of many rulers, betrayals and what finally happens when Antipas rules. Reenter Pilate who would like to take over control of Palestine and Antipas has only one thought and that is to control all of his father’s kingdom. But, what about Jesus as Nicolas finally sees him not really knowing who he was. Joseph was his father who was a deaf-mute. Finding out about where Joseph was born and learning that his wife was Mary from Bethlehem and Jesus their son set in motion many a quest to find out more about him as they state they think that Mary died and so did her child. Added to that is Antipas’s realization about Pilate informing Nicolas that he wanted Jewish rule restored to Herod’s realm. As the author relates more about Antipas and Nicolas and their relationship even dealing with women.
Yeshua the Baptist arrives and Antipas does not trust him as many come to hear his speak. What he does you will have to learn for yourself as you begin to wonder if he is not following exactly in Herod’s footsteps. What Baptist suggests causes Antipas to do something rash. We learn about Jesus and how he is called a healer at this point. The research related in this book is extensive. The description of the life of Herod, his two sons and their relationship with Nicolas quite compelling as well as the women in their lives and the role Joanna plays throughout the novel.
Part four relates what happens when Nicolas returns to Jerusalem and the death of Baptist. Now they learn more about Jesus and his followers and their search for him. Going to Nazareth Chuza, Joanna’s husband states he saw a woman claiming to be the mother of Jesus. Betrayals occur and many try to control Antipas and his actions in their favor. The life of Jesus is told and the author uses different texts as he shares much about him and we learn more about his life and his work. As our story comes to a close does it really because there are still many unanswered questions that you will have to decide for yourself. You hear the words of Jesus and you hear his songs as he speaks to his disciples and he heals the sick. Jesus is never alone in public and had many followers.
You hear his words and his thoughts and you get to know as author Robert Earle takes the reader on a special journey back to Herod’s rule and through the ages to meet the one man who was Clothes in White Linen. You decide the answers to the questions presented as you read this novel. Learn why some think he poisoned himself to avoid crucifixion. As the author relates the ending and what they think really happened to Jesus and his body you need to decide for yourself as Mary kept Herod warm and two others Jesus.
Fran Lewis: reviewer