Just Like Us is a collection of soliloquies and monologue-type readings written in the speculative voices of 21 New Testament characters. The readings portray individuals who had roles in three major events from the life of Jesus Christ: his birth, crucifixion and resurrection. Gurney includes both villainous and heroic individuals, as varied as Judas Iscariot, Simon Peter, Herod the Great, and Mary of Magdala.
Each reading incorporates historical context, both biblical and extra-biblical. One example is the monologue of Judas Iscariot, who examines the heated political climate of first century Palestine and offers an intriguing slant on infamous actions. The horrifying megalomania that Herod the Great displayed at the Slaughter of the Innocents is chilling: “Did I not say that torrents of blood would flow? … History will assuredly applaud my action.”
The stories are written in an intimate, conversational tone, easily lending themselves to oral, dramatic presentations. With so much historical material as a backdrop, the book would make an innovative resource for Christian educators and youth leaders. Yet it should be noted that extra-biblical details about certain characters seem derived from Protestant traditions that are possibly unfamiliar to Roman Catholic or Orthodox readers.
One minor weakness of the collection is the author’s tendency to use the same voice across the spectrum of characters. There is little difference in tone and vocabulary between, for example, the expressions of an uneducated shepherd and the urbane musings of one of the highly educated Three Wise Men. This dilutes the portrayal of a varied demographic. Yet the author shows skill in projecting how real people enmeshed in the cultural structures of the day might have felt in these dramatic circumstances, people who were, as the title aptly suggests, “just like us.”
Also available in hardcover and ebook.