I hope everyone is having a peaceful and happy Easter,
and has found plenty of time for some reading.
Lucy always noticed other women's legs, her own being a sad disappointment to her.
Half-past five, said the watch. Half-past five! Miss Pym stopped breathing and stared in unbelieving fascination. No, really, did any college, however physical and hearty, begin the day at half-past five! Anything was possible, of course, in a community which had use for neither bedside tables nor bedside lamps, but-half-past five! She put the watch to her small pink ear. It ticked faithfully. She squinted round her pillow at the garden which was visible from the window behind her bed. Yes, it certainly was early; the world had that unmoving just-an-apparition look of early morning. Well, well! Henrietta had said last night, standing large and majestical in the doorway: "Sleep well. The students enjoyed your lecture, my dear. I shall see you in the morning;" but had not seen fit to mention half-past-five bells.
They stood there on the gravel looking up at her, smiling. That was how she always remembered them afterwards. Standing there in the sunlight, easy and graceful; secure in their belief in the world's rightness and in their trust in each other. Untouched by doubt or blemish. Taking it for granted that the warm gravel under their feet was lasting earth, and not the precipice edge of disaster.
Lucy's capacity for doing nothing was almost endless, and had been the despair of both her preceptors and her friends.
She could never get away from that other half of herself. It had sent her into fights with her knees knocking, it had made her speak when she wanted to hold her tongue, it had kept her from lying down when she was too tired to stand up. It would keep her from washing her hands now.
Mary and Mary, the mother of Jesus and the sister of Lazarus. The number of Marys in the bible can seem clumsy, and a fiction writer would have edited out the confusion – the mother of Jesus and the sister of Lazarus (and also Mary Magdalene) should have different names so that readers can tell them apart. In fact there are two Marys for a simple reason: the sister of Lazarus is named after the mother of Jesus, and as a clue to her character the Mary connection is useful – the Lazarus Mary is a younger version of the Virgin Mary, and equally devoted to Jesus. Before too long, she will be washing his feet with her hair.
With Lazarus, but also in many other fields, innovative discoveries can be made by trusting the historical human imagination. Admittedly, reconstructions have to be revised as new imaginative records become available, but biographers should stay faithful to the patterns that consistently emerge.
These are the sources other than the bible that can enlighten the biography of Lazarus.
The question about when Lazarus befriended Jesus is partially answered in a book by the Portuguese novelist and Nobel prize-winner José Saramago. In The Gospel According to Jesus Christ (1991), Saramago identifies a moral flaw in the popular story of the nativity...
Thomas Hardy rhymes Lazarus with cadaverous, and the Swedish Nobel prize-winner Pär Lagerkvist, in Barabbas (1950), conveys an accurate impression of how Lazarus must have appeared to contemporary observers.
I can therefore say with confidence that today, on the morning after the first miracle performed by Jesus at the wedding in Cana, as Lazarus sets out for Jerusalem with Absalom and a couple of selected lambs, he is probably clean-shaven. In any biography, which is an attempt to bring someone back to life, the facts will generate patterns of evidence. There is a coherence to the visual memory of Lazarus: in the portrayals that survive, mostly paintings made between 1300 and the end of the eighteenth century, Lazarus is consistently free of facial hair.
Christians usually interpret Lazarus as a prefiguring of Jesus, who is Christ. This is the purpose of Lazarus's life, for those who believe in his literal existence, and his narrative function in the bible for those who don't.
Perhaps he'll thank Jesus warmly for all he's done. But, now he thinks about it, he might also suggest that Jesus could have come earlier, or stopped him from falling sick in the first place. It seems churlish to complain, but every first word he imagines saying is 'but'.
'If we do kill you we'll do it properly,' Cassius adds, sensing that at last his words are having an effect. He pushes on. 'Death the Roman way means crucifixion, and no one comes back from that.''Please. I haven't broken any laws. Not that I know of.''I was there at the tomb. I saw what happened.''So what did you see? Did I come back from the dead?''In some ways, for your sake, I hope so. If you're lying then the penalty for false witness is death.''The penalty for everything is death.''That's justice for you...'
At some stage, and this is equally true for the historical Jesus, we must avoid a preoccupation with attempts to establish factual propositions. The evidence about Lazarus is fragmentary, and may have been misinterpreted in the two thousand years between then and now.