Theophilos

Theophilos

4.8 5
by Michael O'Brien
     
 

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St. Luke addressed his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles to a man named Theophilos.

Who was Theophilos? Scripture scholars do not know, making him a fit subject for Michael O'Brien's vivid imagination. In this fictional narrative, Theophilos is the skeptical but beloved adoptive father of St. Luke. Challenged by the startling account of the "Christos" received in

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Overview

St. Luke addressed his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles to a man named Theophilos.

Who was Theophilos? Scripture scholars do not know, making him a fit subject for Michael O'Brien's vivid imagination. In this fictional narrative, Theophilos is the skeptical but beloved adoptive father of St. Luke. Challenged by the startling account of the "Christos" received in the chronicle from his beloved son Luke and concerned for the newly zealous young man's fate, Theophilos, a Greek physician and an agnostic, embarks on a search for Luke to bring him home. He is gravely concerned about the deadly illusions Luke has succumbed to regarding the incredible stories surrounding Jesus of Nazareth, a man of contradictions who has caused so much controversy throughout the Roman Empire.

Thus begins a long journey that will take Theophilos deep into the war between nations and empires, truth and myth, good and evil, and into unexpected dimensions of his very self. His quest takes the reader into four ancient civilizations - the Greek, Roman, Jewish, and that of Christianity at its birth, where he meets those who knew this man that some believe is the Messiah.

Though Theophilos is a man of the past ages, he is as familiar to us as the men of our own times. Schooled in the empiricism of both medicine and philosophy, Theophilos is well suited to speak to our age in which seeing cannot be the basis for faith, but rather hearing the witness of those who have been touched by God and opening ourselves to the possibility of an encounter with the living Christ. This is a story about the mysterious interaction of faith and reason, the psychology of perception, and the power of love over death.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this lugubrious novel, painter and novelist O'Brien (Father Elijah) turns the addressee of Luke's Gospels, Theophilos, into a weary protagonist seeking to reclaim his adoptive son. Relating his affection for and concern over his adopted son Luke, who has recently become enamored of the teachings of Jesus, Theophilos travels to see his physician son after a 10-year absence and tries persuading him to return home. Luke, however, wants Theophilos to understand his growing attachment to the young community of Christians, and directs Theophilos to visit a number of people who were personally involved with Jesus; the quest also exposes Theophilos to illness, symbolic dreams and numbing internal discourses before his ultimate conversion. O'Brien displays a firm grasp of Greek, Roman, Jewish and Christian cultures of the first century, creating a strong sense of place and time, but the plot makes a ponderous vehicle for O'Brien's conservative views and doomsday visions, with a leisurely pace that will deter all but the most dedicated.
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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940000883129
Publisher:
Ignatius Press
Publication date:
04/20/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
341,292
File size:
399 KB

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Theophilos 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Corban-Storm More than 1 year ago
'Theophilos' by Michael O'Brien is a fictional depiction of the lives of St. Luke (author of the Gospel bearing his name as well as the Acts of the Apostles) and the individual to whom he addressed these writings, Theophilos. O'Brien establishes Theophilos as a dear uncle who had the responsibility of raising the young "Loukas" from the age of twelve. The book is written primarily in first person from the perspective of Theophilos--a physician steeped in the belief system of the Greek Gods though who still is more effectively an agnostic--who has now become quite disturbed by his nephew's sudden belief in the cult of "the Christos"---The Way of Jesus Christ. The book is a "present" narrative (mostly in 65 A.D.) with a collection of letters, journal entries, and examinations (interviews) woven into it, along with many reminiscences of the childhood years of not only St. Luke, but Jesus of Nazareth. I think the first question that most O'Brien fans would ask is, "How does Theophilos measure up to the `Children of the Last Days' series?" To this, I would say that it is more a change of venue than a change of pace. The familiar elements of the author's craft: well-developed multi-dimensional characters, poetic dialogue (both interior and spoken), and thought-provoking scenarios--are not only intact, but I would even suggest further honed. The second question is, "Is 'Theophilos' more the high-action, overtly Catholic/Theological thriller (the likes of 'Fr. Elijah' or 'Plague Journal')... or is it more the evenly-paced, thoughtful novel--rich in Catholic philosophy though more subtle in its presentation (the likes of 'A Cry of Stone')?" I would honestly say this book bridges the gap between the two, with a slight lean towards the latter, yet full of intriguing happenings as we traverse a familiar historical landscape where peripheral biblical "acquaintances" are given depth and personality in very compelling and believable ways. The historical research is so meticulous, the cultural understanding so cohesive, and the biblical exegesis so sound, that this story becomes more than just plausible; the reader could easily be led to believe that the author had a profound mystical experience of the lives of Theophilos and St. Luke. The change of time period permits O'Brien to delve more deeply into the mystery of the human person, exploring interior realities that transcend culture and time yet which are no doubt influenced by both in how they are manifest. One example is when the adolescent Loukas approaches Theophilos, wrestling with the idea of cutting his hair (he has left it long in emulation of the ancient Greek philosophers). The boy wonders if this act would dilute his "Greekness". In a beautiful exchange between the two, his uncle agrees that, though a man's exterior and interior should "be as one", this is only in the "essentials" (his character, actions, and words), not necessarily in the "accidentals" (physical appearance). An astute Catholic can draw from this exchange not only a reflection on the common--if not universal--experience of adolescent angst (NOT rebellion), but also an even more profound reflection on our understanding of the Eucharist. Once again, Michael O'Brien has created a masterpiece that I believe affirms his place as one of the top fiction writers of our time.
LadyAmbrose More than 1 year ago
In Theophilos, Michael O'Brien leaves behind the modern world with its wars and build-up to apocalypse, and dives back into the First Century milieu of an already-decaying Roman Empire. Jesus has been crucified, buried, and resurrected, and his apostles are traveling the known world, preaching his gospel. A young physician named Luke has abandoned his reliance on rational philosophy to become a believer and close associate of the Apostle Paul. Luke's adoptive father, Theophilos, undertakes a journey to find Luke and rescue him from this dangerous cult. Luke convinces him to travel the Holy Land and listen to various witnesses on both sides, and in the process he comes to see, not only the power of the new religion itself, but the various forces impinging on it - personal, cultural and political. O'Brien does a beautiful job, as always, of drawing his characters, and he makes the world of the Roman Empire come alive in all its everydayness, beauty and horror. Each of the many people Theophilos meets presents a different perspective on the Christian faith, and Theophilos himself combats the faith with all the objections that an educated and sophisticated secular man can marshal. It makes for a fascinating read, and underlines the truism that the attractions and conflicts posed by Christianity at its beginning remain, and are with us unchanged today. My only slight criticism of the book is that I wish O'Brien had chosen to present the story in narrative form rather than as journal entries. I think his choice tends to distance the reader from the action, as we hear of it by later report rather than as it happens, thus lessening its impact. However, it is a good medium for showing the inner meditations and searchings of this admirable and intelligent man. All in all, I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the beginnings of Christianity, and for anyone interested in thinking about the conflicts between Christianity and the secular world, and how those are played out, not only in ancient times, but throughout history and today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed every one of Mr. O'Brien's books that I have read. This is another. He always teaches me something and this time it was about events that while fictional were none the less historic. It seemed I was there in the middle east just before Rome destroyed the Temple of the Jews. What a ride!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago