I read the trilogy The Kingdom and the Crown by Gerald Lund because I finished all the currently produced episodes of The Chosen! I was craving more immersion in the historical world of Roman-occupied Israel. We are studying the New Testament at church this year, and I’m the Sunday School teacher, so I promise I wasn’t interested in fiction to take the place of scripture.
The Kingdom and the Crown gave me a fantastic glance into the world of the Gospels in the New Testament, taking the modern day understanding of doctrines as found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It even more helped me to see the people in scripture (including those unnamed people) as real people that existed, struggled, loved Jesus, and followed him. It was just what I was looking for!
I had thought that the three books in The Kingdom and the Crown series would follow the three years of Christ’s ministry, but that was not the case. The first two books took place during his early ministry, and the last one passed a lot of time before returning, in more detail, to the last few months of the Savior’s life before his death and resurrection. In addition, the main characters in the plot were separate from Jesus for much of their lives, but through their conversion, the reader sees how the gospel changed their lives, especially
Lund created his main characters from a few families. The main family features twenty-year-old Simeon, the son of a prosperous Capernaum merchant, who is deeply involved in the Zealot movement. He and his family and friends play a significant part. Another main characters is Miriam, the daughter of a very wealthy and powerful Sadducee leader in Jerusalem. Although she does not follow a particular political movement or religious sect, she is a powerful independent young woman. Other characters focus around their family and friends, such as Miriam’s servant who is also her friend. Some of the Roman soldiers are given backstories and personalities (for good and for bad).
Although I was initially disappointed that the series didn’t follow Christ and His movements through His years of ministry, I am ultimately glad. It would not have been appropriate for the author to have put so many fictional settings in His way and put words in His mouth that we can’t know that He said. As it was, the author provided end notes at the end of each section to say where he got the concepts and words spoken. He tried to keep Jesus’s words to a minimum or at least to direct quotes from scripture.
I will not be providing plot summaries here. I will say that the first book was touching in the initial transformations in people’s lives as they came to understand the difference between what they had been living and what Christ was teaching. The second book felt a bit slower because much of it followed the fictional characters as they underwent conversion, rather than a focus on the miracles and being present for Christ’s sermons.
The final book was quite powerful to me as I considered the Savior’s sacrifice for me and for everyone. Putting these characters into the situation was almost a shock. Even though I knew what would ultimately happen to the Savior, of course, the characters I had follow through three years of their saga proclaimed their faith, even when they thought all ways lost. What a challenge, then, to remain faithful when their hearts were breaking at the Savior’s death! What a glorious peace they had when he appeared to the faithful, having been resurrected.
I really enjoyed reading The Kingdom and the Crown. I wish I could learn about these same characters and see how their families adapted as they had to adjust to a new life as Christians in a Jewish land and beyond.