Title: From Jerusalem to Kashmir: The Secret Life of Jesus in India
Author: Jozef Banas
Genre: Biography / Religious studies & spirituality
From Jerusalem to Kashmir: The Secret Life of Jesus in India by Jozef Banas follows two storylines: a present-day story of Michal and Marika from Slovakia and Jesus’ life 2,000 years ago. Marika has cancer, and they travel to Kashmir to visit Jesus’s purported grave there to receive a miraculous healing. The Jesus timeline follows a much different trajectory that the familiar biblical telling, showing Jesus traveling to India to gain wisdom and knowledge.
Jozef Banas has clearly done extensive research for writing this novel. Even though it’s fiction, much of its plot is rooted in theories about Jesus traveling to India and what he might have done during the eighteen years between age twelve in the Jerusalem temple and age thirty when he started his ministry. Supporting evidence for such a theory regarding Jesus’s journey to India to pursue his interest in gaining Eastern wisdom and knowledge allegedly exists, but this novel is fiction.
The storyline is intriguing and should be approached with an open mind, but also with caution, especially for readers who have strong religious convictions in the Christian faith. This book challenges much of conventional Christian beliefs about who Jesus was, although much of the way Jesus is portrayed remains true to what we know of his character. That said, passages where Jesus dismisses prayer are examples that may cause some readers to be unsettled. However, if read with an open mind and the intent of possibly learning something new, Banas’s novel proves thought-provoking and gets the reader asking questions.
The storyline that follows Michal and Marika may not be as potentially controversial as the Jesus timeline, but seeing as this is fiction, the novel can be enjoyed for what it is: a story. Michal and Marika’s relationship as a longtime married couple who clearly love each other is heartening. That Michal is willing to do anything to help his dying wife is deeply moving, and Marika’s fear due to her cancer is realistic and treated with care.
At the backdrop of the Michal-Marika storyline is a mysterious group who works for the Catholic Church, whose job is to uphold the Church’s beliefs at all costs, even if they must resort to unscrupulous means or work with groups like the Nazis. Chapters involving discussions amongst this group and various church leaders are at times chilling and show the deeply flawed and troubling part of humanity. This challenges the reader to question some of the basic beliefs they may have held true for years. However, long passages of dialogue exist in these chapters that are information heavy and tend to slow down the narrative. When dialogue reads like a textbook, the character no longer feels like a person, but rather a source of information. While this background is necessary for the plot, perhaps it could have been presented in a more summarized form.
From Jerusalem to Kashmir: The Secret Life of Jesus in India will challenge some readers to think outside of their long-held beliefs, with the potential to expand their minds to new ideas. Jozef Banas’s novel is thoroughly researched and provides a compelling alternative story for Jesus’s life. Long after finishing this book, its themes of love and approaching others with an open heart and mind will long remain with the reader.
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