My Brother's Keeper: A Novel about the Family of Jesus


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What if your brother was the most controversial figure in the history of the world and your job was to protect him? That’s the challenge faced by the Rabbi James of Jerusalem—whom the Bible identifies as “the brother of the Lord”—in My Brother’s Keeper, an inspired retelling of the Christian story by author Bill Kassel. What can James do to fulfill a deathbed promise to his father, Joseph, and save Jesus, the Nazarene prophet who is stirring contention among the Jewish religious leadership and the Roman occupiers?

The only hope of keeping his brother from a gruesome death is James’s cordial relationship with the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who turns to him for guidance in matters of Jewish law and custom. Indeed, Pilate views James with the utmost respect, even seeing him as a possible successor to the corrupt high priest, Caiaphas. And why not? While James hails from rural Galilee, his family is no bunch of hill country peasants. This is a family of substance, descended from King David, with kinship ties to the great Temple priest Zacharias. James himself is the famous scholar and counselor known as James the Just. Fulfilling his pledge to protect Jesus becomes the consuming focus of James’s life as his brother runs afoul of the Temple authorities, and Zealot rebels attempt to exploit his popularity—their goal to foment a revolution against the hated Romans. But even such a widely admired man of honor and learning as James can’t calm the fears of change stirred by Jesus and his movement, or counter the forces of politics, greed, and corruption that loom over a first-century Palestine ready to explode.

My Brother’s Keeper is a riveting historical/religious novel in the tradition of such Bible-based classics as Ben Hur, The Robe, and The Silver Chalice. It offers a sweeping vision of a nation at its tipping point—a proud and ancient people facing economic stress, political division, and the specter of radicalism and violence, conditions not unlike those of our own time. Inspired by writings handed down from the earliest days of Christianity, it tracks the lives of individuals instantly recognizable as religious/cultural icons, but it presents new insights into who those people were, how they lived, and what was going on around them. This is a sprawling tale with a fresh and compelling perspective on Jesus and his family that will make you reconsider the story that’s at the very heart of Western Civilization.


Bill Kassel has made a specialty of communicating religious ideas and moral concepts in highly accessible ways to a broad public. He is the author of two earlier novels: Holy Innocents and This Side of Jordan. Writing under his own byline or as a ghostwriter for others, he has authored or edited non-fiction books as well as articles appearing in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Newsweek, National Catholic Register, American Thinker, and numerous other publications and online journals. Kassel is also a Christian media producer. He created a series of religious comedy specials for Ave Maria Radio, the national Catholic programming service. And he writes a popular blog, The Guy In the Next Pew.


“From the opening words of Bill Kassel’s novel we are drawn into the complex and colorful world of first-century Israel. The reader is caught up in the drama of Christ through the eyes of Jesus’s natural family. Kassel’s work is unconventional, exciting, and controversial, offering fresh insights and inspiration for believers and non-believers alike.”

– Fr. Dwight Longenecker, author of The Romance of Religion

“It takes unusual skill to imaginatively strive to get behind the eyes of those closest to Jesus. Or to sympathetically profile the reactions of the Pharisees who, we often forget, were the most devout of the Jewish sects. . . . Kassel elaborates, adapts, and embroiders but never contradicts the biblical material. This is a creative and stimulating form of meditation that entertains like a novel but edifies like a prayer. Enjoy it.”

– Al Kresta, Host of “Kresta in the Afternoon” on Ave Maria Radio


Dimensions6 × 9 in
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