Friday, September 7, 2012

Recent reading

I just finished Dr. Luke's Assistant by David A. Todd this week.   It's a fictionalized account of how the book of Luke might have come to be written from the perspective of Luke's assistant Augustus.

The story chronicles 3 years of time about 30 years after the death and resurrection of Christ.  Augustus is a Jew but from a family that has embraced Roman ways.  His journey of faith, as well as the triumphs and trials of research and writing during that time period kept my interest throughout the book.   Luke and Augustus traveled and researched as much of Jesus' life as they could starting in Bethlehem and interviewing people who would have been alive and witnessed the events of Jesus' life.

It was interesting to read how early Christians and Christian congregations didn't have the gospels of Mark and Matthew unless someone knew someone with a copy and then not unless they could find someone who could read and write accurately and knew how to check for errors in copying.  This was exactly Augustus' work and why Luke hired him.  (in the story)

This was a very enjoyable read.

Earlier this summer I read Rumors of Eden by Kathy Frias.  It is set 2 generations/300 years post Old Testament Flood. (remember how long lives still were)  Culture varies between tribal and cities with city-Kings.  The protagonist, a young Madai, suffers the loss of his wife and experiences a crisis of faith.  Does God exist and where can I find him?  What witness or proof of God's existence can I bring back with me to share with my family and my son?

He decides to take a journey to find an "old one", a person who might have been alive in the time of Noah and who can remember and give him guidance.   The journey is arduous and along the way he crosses a great ocean, dodges evil practicing unbelievers, escapes a corrupt city-state and in the process meets a wise traveling companion.  His journey has him meeting Job and Job's family in prosperity and later witnessing Job's faith in misfortune.  He meets faithful and doubting believers from across the world who are also on seeking journeys.  He and his companions are captured by the warriors of another city-state and eventually escape helped by the Shemites (son of Noah).

Then Madai and his companion get to meet Shem and his father Noah who becomes Madai's "old one" and witnesses to the truth and presence of God in each person's daily walk of faith.  As part of this tutelage they are taken to the Ark, which still rests on Ararat.

Madai learns interesting and special lessons about God, about the peoples of the world, and about himself by taking the journey and through his companions and those they meet.  His journey through doubt and who impacts his thinking and faith was one of the threads of the story that kept me interested.

It's a long book that can feel tedious but just when I was getting a little frustrated with the story it would shift into action mode and pique my interest again. 

While I would recommend Dr. Luke's Assistant to any reader I hesitate to do the same with Rumors of Eden.   You need to be a patient reader or be the type of reader who can pick up and put down a story for a while and then come back to it.  I think it's very much worth the read for the lessons of Madai and for a glimpse of how the world might have been 300 years after the flood.  The author doesn't stint on setting or in letting us feel what the characters feel.  I loved the wonder and awe of meeting Shem and Noah.

I will certainly watch for other books by both of these authors. 

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