I’m not entirely sure how it was that I stumbled onto this little gem of a story—but I would be remiss if I didn’t make mention of it and share it with any who might be inclined to read it. Admittedly, Titus A comrade of the Cross, by Florence Morse Kingsley is not the easiest read, having been written in the late 1800’s in a bit of a King James style. BUT, don’t let that deter you. With these wonderful things called iPads (and Kindles, and the like), not only is this book FREE!!!, but you have a handy dictionary at the tap of a finger which will help you or your child with any archaic language which may not be familiar to you. Not only is reading old books in general good for the brain and vocabulary, but this one has special merit. Just read the introduction:
Early in the year of 1894, the publishers of this book, desiring to secure a Life of Christ of superior merit and special character, offered a prize of one thousand dollars for the best manuscript submitted. The conditions stated were that the book was not to be merely a descriptive narrative, but a story in which the experiences of the supposed characters brought them into intimate relations Christ and his disciples, his circumstances, experiences and teachings. The largest liberty was given to plot, it being understood that the style should be simple and plain, and such as should hold the interest of young people who were already nominally believers in Christ. Such a work, to make the life and teachings of Christ as real and practical as if he lived and taught in our streets at the present day, would, it was thought, result in great good, by enabling the young readers to catch the truest and highest conception of the revelation of God in Christ, and of the ideal life for man as shown in him. In response to the above call, three hundred and seventy-seven manuscripts were received, many of them of a high order of merit. The committee, after several weeks of arduous labor, finally decided in favor of the work herewith printed. It was first published in cheap form, for Sunday-school use, and was an immediate success, two hundred thousand copies being called for within a few weeks. Believing the work to be one of unusual merit, and worthy of more permanent and attractive form, the present edition is offered. …
And here is a comment from the author about her purpose in writing this story:
It is to present the life of Jesus upon earth in such a way as to give a fresh interest to the “old, old story;” to bring the Jesus of nearly nineteen centuries ago into our lives to-day—a real, a living Jesus, as tender, as loving, as thoughtful of his children who are upon earth now, as he was with the dwellers in Palestine.
The story itself is the story of the gospels, the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (which is why I said it was an Easter story), but is told through the eyes of a young crippled boy, Titus, who is healed by Jesus and gets to know the disciples and Mary, Jesus’ mother. The story is seamlessly woven with scripture throughout. The author takes some liberty to explore (and fictionalize/hypothesize) the lives of the thieves who hung on the cross which makes the story even more compelling. The gospel characters come to life in a fresh way, but none more so than Jesus, and yet the author does so with the utmost fidelity to the gospel texts, without adding to (or taking away from) scripture (at least where Jesus is concerned).
I encourage you, parents, to read this with your kids. You can easily adjust some of the “hath” and “doest thou” language into “has” and “do you” if you like to make it more understandable for them. Or they can get a jump start on their Shakespeare classes if you don’t!
I admit, even though I know the story of Christ and knew what was coming, the author wrote it in such a way that I was compelled to read on and find out what happened next. It’s an unusual opportunity for you and your kids to re-read the gospel accounts and to do so in a way that feels fresh and new.