Richard Zimler on using Old Testament writings to fuel his alternative New Testament novel

May 3, 2023


In The Lost Gospel of Lazarus, Lazarus and his close friend Yeshua – who will come to be known as Jesus – engage in deep discussions about morality, faith and politics. Often, they use Old Testament scripture to challenge each other and delve into deeper meaning.

When asked about the research processes involved in creating all this, Richard cited the internet and Google as a huge boon. He was able to search for quotes using specific words, and choose which quotes apply to his story. For example, if Yeshua and Lazarus are discussing chance and improbability, quotes related to these key words (and variants of them) can be used to help Yeshua and Lazarus navigate their discussions.

The decision to make Yeshua and Lazarus literate was intentional. Zimler has encountered work that constructs Jesus as illiterate and he does not find this convincing, so he sought to offer a contrasting version in his novel. From his research, Zimler believes that young Jewish men who showed ability in Jerusalem will have been educated. He believes that the historical Jesus’ magnetic charisma was developed by a good education, because he must have been an articulate and moving speaker. Who would teach this young, promising man? The ancient rabbis, of course. Ergo, a key text in his learning will have been the Old Testament.

Zimler believes this construction of Jesus is evidenced in the New Testament itself. Jesus arrives to Jerusalem on a donkey, which fulfils the Old Testament Prophecy of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9: “your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey…”). To Zimler, this is the intentional decision of a learned man who wants to evoke the Old Testament in his actions.

What if your beloved friend brings you back from the dead, and you see nothing of any afterlife? Learn more about The Lost Gospel of Lazarus here and grab a copy here.