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I became a reader of the Thoene's historical fiction many, many (many) years ago when I was in high school. I read a series that took place when Israel became a nation state after World War 2. And then I read a series that surrounded a Jewish family during World War 2. I've read a series that took place during the Depression and a series in old Ireland. Most recently I've read the first book in the Jerusalem Chronicles- When Jesus Wept. As I looked up the Thoene's website I realized that there are some others I've missed or only read a few of.
So I was thrilled to review the second of the Jerusalem Chronicles- Take This Cup.
Take This Cup is the story of Nehemiah- not the ancient Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king and returner to the promised land after captivity, but a young boy, born on the mountains of Eden and given a strange task. His task is to return an ancient cup to the new Messiah- Jesus- in Jerusalem. He learns of Jesus from his Rabbi who was one of the travelers from afar who came to worship the new Messiah at His birth. As Nehemiah goes on his journey, he has dreams and visions that teach him the history and the promises of the Messiah. When he finally reaches the Messiah, Nehemiah learns that He is not the King Nehemiah thought he was looking for- He is so much more.
Reading Biblical fiction makes me nervous. I don't want an author who is going to take great liberty and build a story that is not Biblically accurate. I want what I read to be true to Scripture. But often Biblical fiction writers are taking what may be a really short section of the Bible and building a whole novel. Obviously somethings come from the imagination of the author. The questions for me are this: Is the story that unfolds something that could be Biblically true? Are the portions of the story that come from direct Scripture and that surround known Biblical characters accurate?
The Thoene's books answer these questions with a resounding YES! With a wonderful Jewish perspective, the Thoenes take what is known from the Bible and weave beautiful narratives surrounding Biblical characters. With the stories that they create and the characters that they introduce the Bible is brought alive in a rich a meaningful way. Although they create quite a bit of story, every single Biblical person or incident or Scripture is portrayed with accuracy. Occasionally their characters will even address times is Scripture where words can have multiple meanings. The character- in this story Nehemiah- will think on what has been said and note that while some people thought Jesus meant one thing, Nehemiah thinks from the Hebrew word that Jesus really could have meant something else.
With the beautiful imagery and detailed descriptions of Biblical times and events, the Thoene's books make me want to know more Scripture, to know more about the Jesus in their stories. This is the mark of great Biblical fiction. It is accurate, it draws readers to want to know God's Word.
I can definitely give this one 5 stars- and indeed recommend all of the Thoene's other books. I give it a PG for content.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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