Saturday August 19th 2017

“Jesus the Jew as told by His Brother James” reviewed by Carol Moore


Jesus the Jew 1Highly Recommended **** “JESUS THE JEW As Told By His Brother James” is an intelligent, thoughtful look at the legend of Jesus.  Considering that I grew up Catholic, I probably shouldn’t have been so intrigued by the content, but I heard things that I’ve always thought were the real truth, starting with the fact that Jesus had siblings!  This one-man show kept my attention riveted to the stage – no gimmicks required!  Forum Productions stages “JESUS THE JEW” at the Greenhouse.   4 Spotlights

Steven Strafford plays Jeremy, a biblical scholar mourning because his brother, a doctor with Doctors without Borders, was killed when a hospital in Syria was bombed.  He isn’t dealing well with his grief, and he feels guilty because he stayed safe at home while his beloved brother put himself in harm’s way.

The only way he can make sense of this tragedy is to visualize the parallels between his life and that of James, the brother of Jesus.  James has been warned that they are coming for him; he knows they will demand that he renounce his brother or lose his life.

Instead of dwelling on his immediate future, James shares anecdotes about his famous brother.  I’ve listed a few of the facts, I can’t remember all of the anecdotes:Jesus the Jew 2

  • Jesus is his older brother; they have four younger siblings.
  • Jesus didn’t always do his chores on time.
  • The one time he saw Jesus bleeding, his brother told him he’d never see him bleed again.
  • When Jesus came running to tell his brother about a girl he’d met, James was sure he’d fallen in love, and was shocked to hear that Jesus thought she was perfect for him (he married her a few years later)
  • Jesus followed Jewish law.
  • He and his siblings thought Jesus was really smart and a good rabbi but they were surprised by his huge following.
  • Jesus and Mary of Magdala were married. They were always together although they never established a home. Under Jewish law, she would never have been allowed to anoint his body if they weren’t married.
  • James wasn’t present for his brother’s death, although Jesus appeared to him shortly after his resurrection.

James was the bishop of Jerusalem.  For 30 years after his brother died, he led the Jewish Christians.  He required potential Christians to become Jewish because he thought that’s what his brother wanted.  It wasn’t until his archrival Paul, who never even met Jesus, started writing his letters that things changed.  James was bitter about Paul’s rise to prominence.  In the end, James faced his execution with grace and courage.

“JESUS THE JEW As Told By His Brother James” runs through March 26th at the Greenhouse Theater Center (Downstairs Mainstage), 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

Jesus the Jew 4Running time is 85 minutes, no intermission.

Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm

matinee performances at 2:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets range from $30-$35.

To purchase call 773-404-7336 or visit

Parking is available in the Lincoln Garage (formerly the Children’s Memorial Hospital Garage) about a block and a half north of the Greenhouse.  2-4 hours will run you $10.  Metered street parking can also be found, especially on week nights.

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Jesus the Jew As Told By His Brother James”


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