The Soldier Who Killed a King, by David Kitz (Kregel Publications, 2017)
Remember in the account of the Crucifixion of Christ, the soldier at the foot of the Cross who declared, “Surely this man was the Son of God”? (Mark 15:39, NIV)
The Soldier Who Killed a King is this soldier’s story, told first-person, beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Resurrection Sunday. One week in the life of an ordinary Roman centurion who was caught in the tumultuous events of Holy Week.
Well-written and with as little brutality as possible, this is a thought-provoking novel worthy to be part of a Christian’s reading each year before Easter. It’s powerful any time of the year.
Sometimes seeing a familiar story through a fresh lens helps us find new insights. This time, I was struck by an aspect of Barabbas’ release that I’d never considered before. (I’ve read the previous version of this book, The Soldier, the Terrorist, and the Donkey King, but somehow this snippet didn’t stick with me.)
The language is fresh and approachable, with just a hint of formality to remind us this is a man from an earlier time. The centurion, Marcus Longinus, is an impartial observer of both Jesus and Herod as each arrives in Jerusalem through the Messiah Gate and proclaims kingship in his own way. Marcus’ language in describing them matches the opinions he forms.
My favourite lines:
The news of Herod’s arrival spread like flies on a rotting corpse. [page 64]
He [Jesus] was the donkey king. A horse would have put him above the crowd. A horse would have meant elevating himself like all the other egotistical men who led in this upside-down world. [page 119]
As a Bible dramatist, David Kitz presents the one-man, four-act play, The Centurion’s Report. He’s also the author of the devotional book, Psalms Alive! and the children’s book Little Froggy Explores the BIG World. And he posts regular reflections on the Psalms on his blog, complete with photos. See davidkitz.wordpress.com.
[Review copy provided by the publisher.]