Title: The Zealots
Author: G.K. Johnson
Illustrator: James Dawson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Plot: Shi’mon and Yeshua are best friends living in Roman occupied Capernaum, Israel. Shi’mon’s heard of the Zealots movement against the Romans. He wants to join. Yeshua cautions him against it. But when Shi’mon’s father dies at the hands of the Romans, Shi’mon is outraged. He’s determined to join and train with the Zealots. During this time, Yeshua continues his studies to be a rabbi. Both boys hear word of a new rabbi, called Jesus. After Shi’mon is gravely injured in an attack against the Romans, Jesus finds him and heals him. Shi’mon starts to listen to Jesus. Jesus calls Shi’mon to follow him and be his disciple. Yeshua continues his studies in Jerusalem. He’s close to becoming a rabbi when his father comes to visit. A Zealot attack breaks out while his father is there and is killed by mistake by a Roman soldier. Yeshua turns to rage and revenge. He learns to become a Zealot. During Passover, Yeshua takes part in a massive Zealot attack in Jerusalem. But the attack goes wrong and Yeshua is arrested. On the last day of Passover, Jesus is arrested and put on trial. In exchange for Jesus, Yeshua is released. What will Shi’mon and Jesus’ other followers do? Will Yeshua seek forgiveness? Or will he return to his Zealot ways?
Rating: 4.0 – a different side of the Jesus story
Opinion: This was a great story. It was great to learn more about Jewish life during biblical times. The book talks about the process of becoming a rabbi and fishers daily routines. It also talks about what happened if you didn’t have enough money for the Romans, or if you tried to stand up to them. It shows why many Jews turned to the Zealots. As it’s a young adult book, it doesn’t go into as many details. The book describes both sides of who people thought Jesus was. My heart broke for Yeshua. I’m glad there was a redemption arc for both boys. He’d seen so much but he saw so much hate. I also loved that the book included Hebrew words and phrases. Though I wish there was a pronunciation guide to go with the guide at the end of the book. This is a great book for young adults, and adults, too. It’s great for anyone who wants to learn more about Jewish and Christian history.