Stories in Print: The Book of Longings
Updated: Sep 10, 2021
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 21st 2020 by Viking
In 2007 we hosted Easter dinner at our house, which we'd bought less than a year before. I'm pretty sure it was then, because we were really excited to have enough space, so we invited both sides of my family.
While waiting for dinner to be served, a relative sparked conversation. "I heard about some article recently in which it suggested that Jesus had a wife. They found some scrolls in a cave or something. What do you think?" Everyone, even my unbelieving family members, looked anxiously around at how to respond. It's Easter, so this is an unusual topic, right? In the corner of the dining room, my grandpa (the most devout Jesus believer I've ever met, who also was in the last year of his life and mostly deaf) lets out the loudest fart ever known to man. We all turn awkwardly and laugh. He thought it was a silent but deadly. The conversation turned to something else. I've always thought it was like God's response to such a ridiculous proposition as Jesus the savior having a wife.
That's kind of how I felt about this book. Absolute ridiculousness. But, in all honesty, it was a very intriguing story. Sure, there's no biblical record of Jesus having a wife, but the way the story is told by Sue Monk Kidd, he could have.
I'm not sure what drew me to this book. I'd heard of it before but this time while browsing for available titles at the library it stood out. I've lightly been studying and meditating on the humanity of Jesus. It doesn't seem outlandish that Jesus would have had a wife--such a thing COULD be done sinlessly. There's just not very much reliable evidence that he did. The way Monk Kidd frames it, Jesus questioned his divinity and effectively abandons his wife, which seems outside of Christ's character. Although in her story when he did pursue ministry, it makes sense that the biblical writers would not have known that he was married. That seems like a sin of omission to me, while he clearly holds women in high regard for the time period.
I fully believe that Jesus was fully man while being fully God. Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. But one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." I wrote a summer kids program on this very verse, only having it committed to memory from our wonderful church worship director Anna who put it to music. He knows what it's like to be a person, which may have included sharing one's life with another, and doing it without sin. All I can say is Ana, Monk Kidd's protagonist, hit the jackpot with that match.
The Book of Longings was entertaining, but not gospel, and it would be inappropriate to treat it as such. Did Jesus have a wife? Honestly, who cares as long as you can recognize that there is adequate evidence that he is God and really did go to the cross for your sins, reconciling you to God. Being married isn't a sin, but Jesus being unmarried does simplify things.
I did appreciate the book's perspective of Judas and Jesus' family as well. The Bible records that Jesus' family thought he was nuts during his ministry which she conveys very well. Judas' actions, while not excused, are somewhat explained and understood. It's an interesting perspective, but still, not gospel.
Check it out for yourself, or better yet, get to know the real Jesus in the real gospel.