As a preteen I read fiction all the time. I couldn’t get enough of it. Nowadays I only read non-fiction except for those occasional times I get it in my brain I need to branch out and read fiction. I usually enjoy it but it doesn’t intrigue me now like non-fiction does.
For October book month I’m featuring The Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce Longenecker. In seminary I had to read this book and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I typically cringe at historical fiction. As an analytic left-brainer putting up with the fuzzy or made-up details that I feel fill most historical fiction books drives me nuts. Usually historical fiction authors are writers who decide to write a book based in a different time period and then spend six months to a year researching the time period to find some accuracies to add to the writing.
In The Lost Letters the author has a Ph.D. in Theology and is an expert in the New Testament. This means that when he writes about the time period of the New Testament he comes from the point of view not of a writer trying to find a good topic but of someone who through his extensive study dreamt up a story he wanted to tell. He also takes pains to make sure the reader understands what is purely fiction and what is not with an explanation at the beginning and an appendix.
I also like this book because it helped me understand how people during the New Testament time period wrote and transmitted letters. It filled in for me many of the blanks about how letters in the New Testament came to be in such widespread use. Since I live after the invention of the printing press my ability to fully understand how this worked was beyond me. The use of story and imagination filled in the gaps that non-fiction couldn’t and for that I’m appreciative.
The book tells the story of a man that starts reading Luke’s history about Jesus and begins wondering about what is true or not. The story accounts a series of letters recently discovered nowadays and published in a book for current day readers to read. The letters are correspondence from Antipas to Luke and others during the time Antipas was reading and learning about Jesus. It’s a great read!
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