Book Review: The Damascus Way

29 Mar

Young Julia has everything money can buy—except for acceptance by either Gentiles or Judeans in Tiberias. When she discovers the secret her beloved Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Julia and her Hebrew mother are indeed less than second-class citizens. Her future is dark with clouds of uncertainty.

Jacob, Abigail’s brother, is now a young man attempting to find his own place among the community of believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard?

Hired by Julia’s father to protect a wealthy merchant’s caravans on the secretive “Frankincense Trail,” Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing letters and messages between communities of believers now dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia, hardly more than a girl, is also a courier. Can their initial mistrust be put aside to accomplish their mission?

The finale to the best-selling Acts of Faith trilogy co-authored by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke.
Book 1 is The Centurion’s Wife
Book 2 is The Hidden Flame

About The Authors:

Davis Bunn is an internationally-acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in sixteen languages, Davis is equal parts writer, scholar, teacher, and sportsman.

Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.

Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt.

A sought-after speaker in the art of writing, Davis serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.

Writing For Christ has a great interview with Davis Bunn.  Click HERE to read.

Janette Oke writes with a profound simplicity of what she knows best—real life, honest love, and lasting values. With over 23 million in sales, her historical novels portray the lives of early North American settlers from many walks of life and geographical settings. She also writes engaging children’s stories and inspiring gift books that warm the heart.

Janette was born during the depression years to a Canadian prairie farmer and his wife, and she remembers her childhood as full of love and laughter and family love. After graduating from Mountain View Bible College in Canada where she met her husband, Edward, they pastored churches in Canada and the U.S., and they raised their family of four children, including twin boys, in both countries. Edward eventually became president of Mountain View Bible College and recently established a coalition of colleges that became Rocky Mountain Bible College.

During her earliest years, Janette sensed the desire to write. Though she yearned to be a published novelist, she devoted herself to being a wife and mother because, she says, “there is no higher honor—that is my number-one priority.” She began serious writing when her children were entering their teens.

Her first novel, a prairie love story titled Love Comes Softly, was published by Bethany House in 1979. This book was followed by more than 75 others. She reaches both religious and general markets, telling stories that transcend time and place. Her readers of all ages and walks of life can identify with the everyday events and emotions of her characters. Janette believes everyone goes through tough times—the key is to be prepared with a strong faith as the foundation from which decisions are made and difficult experiences are faced. That perspective is subtly woven throughout her novels.

After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children’s picture book, I Wonder…Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.

Janette Oke’s warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President’s Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.

My Impressions:

For most western Christians, the trials of believers in the years following Jesus’ crucifixion are only stories.  From the comfort of our pews it is hard to relate to the fear and secrecy surrounding those known as The Way.  But in Davis Bunn and Janette Oke’s newest book in the Acts of Faith series, The Damascus Way, the era covered by the Book of Acts comes alive.

The Damascus Way is a fictional account of the early church as it faced the persecution of Jewish religious leaders, including Saul of Tarsus.  Bunn and Oke blend scripture and fiction in their portrayal of the day to day lives of followers of Christ.  The story revolves around Abigail and Jacob, characters from the first two books in the series and new character Julia.  We also have appearances from Phillip, Peter, John, Martha, and the infamous Saul of Tarsus.  I think this unique portrayal of the fictional and historical helps the reader to experience what it must have been like living in this time.

After five years as a widow, Abigail is still grieving.  She wants to remain in Jerusalem to stay close to the memories of her husband.  But with the responsibility of her daughter Dorcas, she realizes she must escape to a safer place. Julia is the daughter of a wealthy merchant, yet her life feels constrained.  She has no friends; no one visits from the town.  The secret her mother has kept from Julia, finally is revealed.  Jacob wants adventure, not a boring and safe life.  He struggles with what those around him want, what he desires, and the plans God has for him.  All three characters set out on a journey — real and spiritual — to discover what life and God has for them.

The novel is fast-paced.  Lawlessness and hardship rule much of the area of Judea, and the characters face sand storms and bandits, along with persecution for their beliefs.  But it is also a time of sweet fellowship between believers.  The characters come together often for meals, teaching and prayer.  They are also portrayed as real people with doubts, fears, and grief, but also hopes and dreams.

One thing that kept resonating with me as I read The Damascus Way was that this really must be what true Christian fellowship is.  People depended on each other.  They encouraged each other — especially important in such a time.  They prayed for each other and for the lost.  Yes they struggled with doubts and fears, but their time spent together strengthened their faith.  I think this is what today’s American church needs.  No they didn’t have stewardship campaigns, music festivals, or children’s programs.  But what these early Christians did have was a family.  And the persecution they faced only helped spread the Gospel not diminish it.

I highly recommend  The Damascus Way for several reasons.  It is a well-written historical novel complete with adventure and suspense. It has great characterization — you will care what happens to those you encounter in its pages.  And it is gives a wonderful portrayal of what life with a family of believers can be.

Highly Recommended

(I received The Damascus Way from Davis Bunn in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “Book Review: The Damascus Way”

  1. Elisabeth April 5, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    I LOVE the “Acts of Faith” books and your review reminded me why all over again – they are soooooo good! 🙂


  1. ‘The Damascus Way’ an Example of What True Christian Fellowship Should Be (Review) « Davis Bunn - April 4, 2011

    […] Read Beckie’s entire review of The Damascus Way at her blog, “By the Book.” […]

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