Genre: General Christian/Biblical History
This is an interesting book in that it is based on the NBC show A.D. The Bible Continues (which I have not seen). It reads like a devotional commentary on the book of Acts (prefaced by a quick introduction of the Old Testament, and two chapters on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus to set the scene). Each chapter highlights stories that capture the human element of the Christian revolution along with commentary that connects to the contemporary audience.
I think this could be a helpful and interesting source for new/young believers to visualize the historical context of scripture (or anyone who is unfamiliar). There is basic theology included here and there, which I felt was well balanced for a multi-denominational Protestant audience. And the devotional feel and personal insight into the disciples’ stories presents a very relatable and readable perspective. I also like the scattering of side-notes, which address interesting topics.
Overall, this is a pretty good overview of select moments from Acts, and I recommend it to those new to biblical history–especially teenage believers.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.
Genre: Historical Fiction
The intertestamental period is one of my favorites to study, and one that has continued to be mysterious to me. David deSilva has done an excellent job of fictionalizing many of the historical forerunners in a well researched look at the tensions between the Torah-abiding Jewish community and ever expanding Hellenistic world.
There were some slow moments–especially in the beginning as so many characters were introduced so quickly. But once I had the characters and their motivations straight (some of which I was already somewhat familiar with from history, and many others that were completely new to me), the story began to escalate quickly. This is one that gets better as it goes along, and it was well worth pushing through some of the earlier slower moments.
I have a clearer understanding of the Maccabean revolt and the tensions of assimilation after reading this. The thematic issues are also germane for our world today as Christians, Jews, and other religious groups struggle to preserve the important aspects of their identities within an expanding secular world. The dialog at times seemed almost more Christian and/or contemporary Jewish than of the intertestamental time period, but this was not a negative point for me as it emphasized the contemporary relevance and gave me even more to think about. It is not so much light fiction, as it is historically dense, so I recommend this to lovers of history.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications.