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Posted June 27, 2011
Apostle is the third in E.G. Lewis's Seeds of Christianity series, set in the times of the early Christian Church. Historical and Biblical events take place for the most part off-stage while Shemu'el cares for his flock as bishop of Antioch and his wife Rivkah continues her ministry among the women and children. Real people face problems as familiar today as they must have been then. Rivkah and Shemu'el's rebellious son absconds, daughter Hadassah continues to fight her quick temper, Channah struggles to forgive, and the stranger Tryphena leaves her unwanted child like Moses in a basket at the Christian compound's door. Meanwhile politics, religion and military might jostle for position in a very plausible ancient society, with well-chosen quotes from the Bible and other historical documents to set the scene.
Author E.G. Lewis fills his novel with fascinating research without ever lecturing the reader. The art of firing pots is as convincingly portrayed as that of preparing and prescribing healing herbs. Aqueducts are planned and built with their attendant, and foul-smelling, sewers. Food and drink tempt with their scents and taste. And the teaming streets of the red light district shout with danger.
Characters are beautifully drawn too, from autistic giant to obstinate widow to the more famous Peter and Paul-nobody perfect, but everyone worth saving. Wise lessons are threaded into the tale-the power of forgiveness, the gift of mercy, and the healing of love. The God of these pages is ever-present in the characters' lives, but never intrusive in the tale or the history. It might well have happened like this, and this telling makes for an enjoyable, uplifting read.
Disclosure: The author gave me an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.