Full Review, Take This Cup

 

The last jar remained to be opened. I plucked at the red wax seal and pried the lid off, welcoming the whoosh of ancient air. I peered in. This time there was no scroll, but a fleece wrapped package.

“Rabbi Kagba. It’s not like the others,” I said, some nervousness returning.

“Fetch it out, boy. My hand is too large.”

Reaching in elbow-deep, I grasped the prize and brought it into the light. Beneath thick wrapping, with smooth leather on the outside and fleece on the inside, I felt something the size and shape of a cup. Three strands of knotted leather bound the hide to it. On the exterior of the skin the label read, BEHOLD THE SILVER CUP OF JOSEPH, SON OF JACOB, PRINCE OF EGYPT.

Take This Cup
By Bodie and Brock Thoene
Zondervan, ©2014
Rating: 3/5 Stars

There is so much to say about Take This Cup. I should point out it’s actually book two of Bodie and Brock Thoene’s Jerusalem Chronicles; I was nearly finished with the book before I discovered that, but I feel the book stands alone with no confusion whatsoever—if you have any familiarity with the gospels you shouldn’t have any trouble starting with this!

The second thing I’d like to mention is that I listened to most of this story in audiobook form through the app OverDrive. Towards the end of the novel, I got a paper copy from the library and did a little reading. Normally I wouldn’t think that is very important, but I noticed a definite difference in enjoyment for me between reading and listening. Why? Because this book lends itself so incredibly well to audio. The book has a wonderful “storytelling” feel to it that translates perfectly to being spoken aloud but feels a little flat (to me) when on the page.

Perhaps there are just so many elements of the novel that benefit from a little extra “sound”. For example, the main character receives multiple dreams/visions, and the audiobook adds subtle special effects (mostly a sort of echo) that gives you a strong sense of the magnitude of what is happening to Nehemiah, who is only a little boy.

The narrator is quite talented–honestly the best I’ve listened to so far. “D.J. Canaday” breathes life into every main character, suggesting perfectly the thoughtful child in Nehemiah (our main character), the strength of his father, or the aging frailty of wise Rabbi Kagba.

“Enough about the format,” I hear you ask, “what about the story?”

TakeThisCup2

Nehemiah is the young son of a shepherd living far from Jerusalem. Separated from his family by circumstances outside his control, “Nehi” discovers the ancient cup of Old Testament Joseph and is destined to go on a difficult journey leading the boy, and the historic cup, to Messiah.

The book weaves together scripture, both Old and New Testament, with a fictionalization of the “holy grail”. Re-imagining the cup as being the same mentioned as planted in Benjamin’s pack by Joseph, prince of Egypt (Genesis 44:12) and also as being used by the three mighty men to bring David water (2 Samuel 23:16), the cup must finally make its way to the last supper of Christ. Bodie and Brock are excellent at writing biblical fiction, and the concept behind the story is unique and compelling!

There were some extraneous elements, however, that I didn’t really care for; one example is a mysterious white “hart” (yes, a hart) which supposedly has lived literally since the fall of Eden and is sent by God to help Nehemiah at various points of the story. While I have no problem with having God miraculously provide for Nehemiah’s protection, an ancient and mystical hart from the Garden of Eden seems an unnecessary…stretch. That said, the animal does add a little mystery and his own kind of majesty to the story.

Another instance of peculiarity, for me, was when the authors indicate that one part of a famous parable of Jesus was misunderstood; one word is misheard as another which sounds similar. While I don’t see any evidence of a mix-up, the new analogy made isn’t unbiblical on it’s own and the interpretation (in my mind) doesn’t take away from the point that Jesus was making.

Ultimately, despite a few oddities throughout, it’s evident that the authors want their readers to have a richer understanding of Christ’s life and the significance of His sacrifice for us as foreshadowed through all the Old Testament. They did this beautifully… they evoked the sense of what it might have felt like to be in the presence of Jesus so clearly I found myself tearing up. How I want to see Him face to face!

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