Thursday, June 29, 2006

Faith of My Fathers: Biblical Fiction about King Manasseh's Reign

Faith of My Fathers, by Lynn Austin, continues the “Chronicles of the Kings” series about the Old Testament kings. After covering the life of Hezekiah in the previous three books, Faith of My Fathers begins the story of the next generation: Hezekiah’s son Manasseh, and Joshua son of the palace administrator Eliakim.

Manasseh's anger at his father’s death soon leads him to pagan idols and sorcery. Eliakim and the prophet Isaiah are soon executed and a new set of characters takes the stage. The main theme of this book involves Joshua’s anger and hatred toward his former friend, Manasseh, and how Joshua deals with his experiences: at first angry with God, but later returning to God and helping God’s people. Other fictional characters have similar experiences to the characters in previous books, such as Joshua’s sister Dinah and a maidservant named Miriam.

As with the previous books in this series, the historical background is not extremely well developed. The characters generally think like modern-day Christians, complete with a New Testament understanding of God as a loving and forgiving Father. The story itself could take place in any Christian era, with its emphases on persecution, suffering, and looking in repentance toward a loving and sovereign God. That said, Faith of My Fathers does offer good dialogue and many characters with their various subplots. This story is entertaining, with the good page-turning suspense of a good action novel, including a strong climax and a happy ending for the “good guys.”

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the story involves an item from Jewish history with some basis in facts gathered from the archeological records of Egypt. As the author notes at the end, apparently some Levites and priests did leave Israel during King Manasseh’s reign and settled a colony in Elephantine Island, Egypt; they may well have taken the Ark with them. Faith of My Fathers skillfully blends this idea into an exciting action plot, to be continued in the next book (Among the Gods).

Overall, Faith of My Fathers offers an excellent action-adventure book with Bible characters. Fans of Bible fiction will find this book adequate, as well as a good continuation of the characters and families from the previous three books of “Chronicles of the Kings.”

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