The Raising of Lazarus, one of the most dramatic stories from the Gospels, ranks as the greatest miracle performed by Jesus of Nazareth. In Come Forth, Jesuit priest James Martin (The Abbey; Between Heaven and Mirth) takes readers on a journey to Lazarus's tomb and back again through a "close read" of the account in the Gospel of John, revealing poignant insights on the nature of love, friendship, suffering, and gratitude. Written from the vantage of faith, the book is a moving rumination on the "universality of grief, the difficulty of belief, and the power of Jesus in the face of both" that should speak equally to secular readers.
Martin breaks down the scripture passages sentence by sentence (sometimes word by word) to put skin on the bones of the dramatis personae and challenge long-held archetypes, like that of the sisters Martha and Mary, whose names, Martin says, have become "shorthand in Christian spiritual circles for contemplation and action." Engaging with contemporary biblical scholarship, Martin addresses the intriguing and persuasive theory that Jesus's friend Lazarus ("he whom you love") is the mysterious "Beloved Disciple" mentioned elsewhere in John's Gospel. Another explosive interpretation looks at the shortest verse in the Bible ("Jesus wept.") and posits a reason besides sadness for Jesus's tears. Throughout, Martin mixes biblical exegesis with nuanced reflections on the Lazarus story as represented in the larger culture of art, books, and film. Come Forth is an erudite and heartfelt paean that invites readers to "[b]e loosed, be untied, be freed." --Peggy Kurkowski, book reviewer and copywriter in Denver