The Robe is an excellent novel written by Lloyd C. Douglas. It’s in the same vein as The Big Fisherman, another novel by Douglas that is set during roughly the same time. As always when reading fiction that expands on the Bible and its stories, I was leery of the book, but overall it’s a good read.
Llyod Douglas has a very interesting style of writing. His words feel majestic and noble—the very marrow of the book is well-done. His style is easy to understand but there is this feel behind that makes you feel you are reading fine literature. His books suck you in—they’re an excellent read overall.
My greatest concern with The Robe, as with The Big Fisherman, was how many liberties Douglas took with the book. Unfortunately, I’ve concluded that The Robe takes a much looser version of the facts of the Bible, feeling free to add in its own when necessary. Most striking in The Robe (As you can see by the title) is the inclusion of a Robe, the one that Jesus wore when was crucified. Throughout the book, the Robe is credited for a lot of the comfort Jesus brings to the characters. The book takes on an almost pantheistic view throughout, and overall I wish Douglas had changed how he wrote this book.
Also, like The Big Fisherman, Jesus is not actually a character that speaks in this book. The plot centers instead on a young Roman Legate called Marcellus, who was the man ordered to crucify Jesus. This event sends him almost insane, and he can think of nothing but the Robe that Jesus was wearing when he was crucified. Throughout the book, he learns of who Jesus really was, and becomes a Christian, a dangerous thing when young Caligula is the Emperor of Rome.
Thought the main plot centers on Marcellus, innumerable sub-plots are woven in to the book. As with Douglas’ other book, my favorite part of The Robe was seeing all of the stories play out in their own way yet weave together to produce the book as a whole. The story of Marcellus’ slave Demetrius; Marcellus’ relationship with his sweetheart Diana; Marcellus’ sister Lucia; the old man Justus that Marcellus meets in Galilee, along with Justus’ little grandson; these are just a few of the intricate stories that Douglas writes of in The Robe.
All in all, The Robe is a decent book. The story is masterfully written, weaving in many smaller stories throughout, all of which keep you interested, but I was disappointed with how Douglas interpreted the Scriptures. The additional supernatural feel surrounding the Robe, an inanimate object, is a somewhat disturbing concept that I’d rather avoid. Overall I feel that Biblical fiction is a field that is best not dealt with, but Douglas has done an excellent job telling the story of the characters he has invented. I recommend that you read The Robe, but read with extreme caution—a Bible right next to you. Check everything in the Scriptures, as the Bereans were cautioned to do by Paul
Published on 1 January, 2011. Last updated on