Cover image for City on a hill : parables of the carpenter
City on a hill : parables of the carpenter
Kemp, Kenny.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
[San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, [2004]

Physical Description:
276 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Personal Subject:

Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Presents a new approach to understanding the parables of Jesus, placing them in the context that they reflect the formative and often challenging experiences of Jesus as a young man developing in the period in which he lived. By the author of Dad Was a Carpenter. 20, 000 first printing.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

As he did in the first volume, The Welcoming Door, Kemp imaginatively places a young Christ (Jeshua) in the midst of the parable events that formed the foundation of his later teachings. In this fresh conjecture on the missing years in the life of Christ, Kemp draws his version of Jesus endearingly and well. He strikes a subtle balance between showing the humanity of Jeshua-tired, dirty, fighting a headache, working up a sweat, hanging out with his brothers-while hinting at his possible divinity. Readers will find the likable Jeshua also portrayed as reflective, "a loner given to long, solitary walks and disappearances; a fellow who, even when he laughed, seemed somehow melancholy, as if he were carrying a secret weight." Haunted by dreams of his own death and the violent atrocities that would be perpetrated in his name in future years, Jeshua poignantly whispers to the night sky, "Father, must it be so? Is there no other way?... Please, bring me home." Money, pride and intrigue move the occasionally confusing story line along, illustrating the parable of the forgiven debt and the parable of the persistent widow (readers will want to read The Welcoming Door to understand some of the references in this book). A few profanities may keep it out of more conservative CBA stores, but this unusual take on the life of Jesus should have wide appeal to many readers of faith. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



City on a Hill Parables of the Carpenter Chapter One Visions and Reality Jeshua walked up the winding dirt path, eyes on the ground. His curly dark hair was wet against his neck and his feet squished in his sandals, but it felt good to be clean after a long, dirty day at work. He had hoped the bath would also refresh his mind, but it hadn't. Something deep inside of him ached, a familiar, heavy tiredness that rested upon his shoulders, pressing down on him. At such times he had to get away to think, to ponder, and to pray. The streets were deserted, and the setting sun cast a long blue shadow out in front of him. As he passed the small adobe houses, he could hear conversation, occasional laughter, and the squeals of children playing. The smell of barley bread and mutton stew filled his nose, making his stomach flip-flop in anticipation, but there would be no dinner for him tonight. On the outskirts of town, the Nazareth spring bubbled in its granite basin. Jeshua cupped his hands under the flowing water and drank a long, cool draft. Straightening, he turned back to his village. With forty small adobe and sandstone homes, a few commercial buildings, winding dirt streets, and terraced fields on the surrounding hillsides, Nazareth sat like dregs in a cup, a poor town of poor people. "Ho, Jeshua!" yelled a child. Jeshua turned, and a trio of boys scampered by, beating the ground with sticks and chasing a ball made of sheep's wool wound with string. Jeshua raised a hand to wave, but the boys were already past him, laughing as they chased the crude ball down the winding street. He turned and continued on up the hill, turning to the right when the road forked. Each step was an effort. He leaned heavily on his staff, surprised at how weak he felt. Throughout his life, a gray melancholy had occasionally settled upon him, and he had borne it stoically, but it was coming more frequently now, and lasting longer. When he was a little child in Egypt, he would sit on the riverbank in Alexandria and watch the dirty, slow-moving Nile pass and would be filled with an overwhelming sense of doom. He would look upriver, expecting a bank of dark clouds to come sailing around the bend like a dark galleon bound for an unknown sea. He would stand, rooted to the spot, unable to flee, awaiting its arrival, shivering in anticipation and fear. Later, he asked their old magus friend about the image. The soothsayer studied his star charts and then knelt and took the young boy in his arms. Jeshua was surprised when he felt sobs escaping the old man, who held him so tightly Jeshua could barely breathe. Then he released Jeshua, wiped his tears away, and smiled gamely. "On your way," was all he said. On your way, thought Jeshua, taking another painful step. And here he was, these many years later, still on his way to meet the coming darkness. He imagined it like a bank of unseen storm clouds just beyond the horizon. The cold winds preceding it raised the hair on his neck, filling him with dread and chilling him to the bone. He pulled his cloak tighter. The magus had no advice for him. His mother tried to salve his melancholy with herb poultices and whispered recitations of happier memories. His father tried to take Jeshua's mind off the darkness with work and play. But only God could lift the burden and release Jeshua from the darkness, giving him hope once again, even for a short time. But these days God was silent. His voice had always been like the touch of a feather on skin: delicate, almost imperceptible, easily dismissed as the passing wind. Jeshua had to train his mind to listen to the Spirit as he had trained his ears to hear the far-off call of a hawk. It was a skill that needed constant attention, and the only place he could practice it was far from people and the sounds of life. Yet even as he separated himself from others, especially his own family, it became more difficult, though his parents and siblings gave him strength in the most unusual and unexpected ways. A laugh from little Miriam would erase a dark thought. A tussle with his brother Simeon would remind him that life was struggle but it was also joyful. A kind word from his father would fill his heart, and he would remember the great capacity for love that existed in the people he loved. At such times he knew what he was here for: he was here to gently blow on the cooling coal of love until it flared into flame, filling the world with the fire of God's love. Yet at other times, when the darkness came, he found it difficult to see his path. But even at such times, when he wandered through his life much as others did, lost and directionless, the tiny Voice still whispered to his soul. God had not left him entirely alone; he was not without tools. He had been blessed with a great, surpassing gift -- the gift of love, and in every prayer he uttered, he thanked the Lord for the spring of kindness that welled up in him whenever he met a stranger. And the fount was even stronger when the person felt unimportant or beaten or just plain worn out. Jeshua knew how it felt to be weary; he was weary most of the time these days. The darkness was coming, and he wondered if he would have the strength to face it. At the crest of the hill, the dirt path wound between a stand of sturdy red oak and slender, oily-leafed terebinth trees, and when it curved to the east, toward the Tiran Valley and Tiberias, he left it and climbed up on the boulders that bounded the road ... City on a Hill Parables of the Carpenter . Copyright © by Kenny Kemp. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from City on a Hill: Parables of the Carpenter by Kenny Kemp All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.