I suppose, when most people think “Christmas reading,” Ben-Hur is not the first title that comes to mind. But for me, reading this novel again (a good 45 years after I read it the first time) during the month of December, the story has made me ever so much more thankful for all that the Christmas season represents.
The 1959 film starring Charlton Heston, a favorite movie of mine that I watch more than once a year, had completely erased from my mind the novel it’s based upon. Therefore, after reading an essay about the movie in my film studies class this fall, I decided it was time to read it again. I’m so glad that I did.
The novel opens with the three wise men on their search for the coming King and ends a few years after the resurrection of Christ. First published in the USA in 1880, Ben-Hur is surprisingly easy to read. The style is that of a storyteller, speaking directly to his audience, and I quickly fell under the storyteller’s spell.
The differences between the book and the movie are massive. Much more than I imagined. Not really surprising, considering the audiobook is just over 23 hours (the version I listened to has an amazing narrator, Lloyd James) and the movie is just over 3 1/2 hours. That’s a lot of cutting and condensing that must happen. I still love the movie, but I will view it differently in the future. Not in a negative way either. I will simply be aware of deeper meanings and more knowledge of the characters.
I highly recommend reading or rereading Ben-Hur, and I especially recommend it to all fans of biblical fiction, whether or not you are also a fan of the film.
No matter what you are reading or listening to this wonderful season, Jerry and I, along with Poppet and Pinky, send you our best wishes for a very, merry Christmas.