I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading Logos. Even as I trudged through the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure what I was reading. From the description, I knew it had something to do with Jesus and the origins of Christianity, a subject that I’ve long been academically interested in. The prologue was about somebody named Paul in prison, set to die. I assumed (correctly, as I learned later) that this was the Saul of the New Testament.
But then the story took us to a young Jewish boy named Jacob. I wondered what he had to do with Jesus, but I kept reading. The narrative style seemed a little detached and formal, but the more I got into the story the more the characters fleshed out, and the more I began to think that the style was deliberate. There is something almost but not quite Biblical about the narration itself.
We follow Jacob’s life, as he gets dragged into a Jewish rebellion in Jerusalem, which ends badly for his people and catapults his life out of the comforts of home and into the larger world. This is when the story really gets interesting. As we follow Jacob, his story is woven by bits and pieces into the story that would become the Gospels. We see a martyr named James utter the final words attributed to Jesus. We hear the story of the prophet Yeshua from an old man who met him. We experience the flight to Bethlehem and the birth in a manger.
As Jacob struggles with his own faith, he meets people along the way who help shape his new paradigm. Words he hears lay out the author’s thesis bit by bit:
I am telling the tale of the Jews. Yet I must write in circumlocutions. Someday these scrolls will be discovered. I do not know if enemy or friend of God’s people will find them. Thus I write in language that only men with understanding will appreciate.
It is one thing that many people forget, yet it is so integral a part of religious writings, particularly early Christian. During the persecution of Christians, any writings or stories had to be written almost in code. Oppression always leads to this. We see it in the songs of African slaves in the southern US. We see it in the martial art of capoera, which Brazilian slaves created to look like a dance so they could practice without being discovered. So it is little wonder that stories of Jesus may be more concerned with the purpose of the writing than the facts.
Even in the first century BCE, learned people were aware of the parallels between many different traditions.
The story follows the same formula, does it not?–a man of noble class dressed in the finery of kings and priests and anointed with oils most holy, is cast into the wilderness, losing all and experiencing every misery and deprivation, finally rises up again and is revealed as the savior of humankind and the bearer of a word and bringer of a new and better age.
And in many aspects, Jacob’s own story also follows the same formula. There is little to support this as more than a thought exercise on the author’s part, but the beauty of Logos is that it is entirely plausible. In a way, Jacob legitimizes Christian mythology: he absolutely had to go through the trials he experienced in his life, from his noble birth to the deepest loss and despair, for the story of Jesus to be what it is. Indeed, for the story of Jesus to have been collected and written at all.
About the Book – About the Author – Prizes!!!
About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of LOGOS! Here’s what you need to do…
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest
- Leave a comment on my blog
That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official LOGOS tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!
About the book: While novels and cinema have repeatedly sought after the historical Jesus, until now none have explored what may be a more tantalizing mystery—the Christian story’s anonymous creator. Logos is a literary bildungsroman about the man who will become the anonymous author of the original Gospel, set amid the kaleidoscopic mingling of ancient cultures. Logos is a gripping tale of adventure, a moving love story, and a novel of ideas. None of this should be regarded as out of place or incompatible in a novel about Christianity’s origin. Dissent, anarchism, and revolution—and incipient Christianity was no less these things than the Bolshevik, the French or the American revolutions—inevitably have involved ideas, adventure, and romance.
In A.D. 66, Jacob is an educated and privileged Greco-Roman Jew, a Temple priest in Jerusalem, and a leader of Israel’s rebellion against Rome. When Roman soldiers murder his parents and his beloved sister disappears in a pogrom led by the Roman procurator, personal tragedy impels Jacob to seek blood and vengeance. The rebellion he helps to foment leads to more tragedy, personal and ultimately cosmic: his wife and son perish in the Romans’ siege of Jerusalem, and the Roman army destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, and finally extinguishes Israel at Masada. Jacob is expelled from his homeland, and he wanders by land and sea, bereft of all, until he arrives in Rome. He is still rebellious, and in Rome he joins other dissidents, but now plotting ironic vengeance, not by arms, but by the power of an idea.
Paul of Tarsus, Josephus, the keepers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even Yeshua, the historical Jesus himself, play a role in Jacob’s tumultuous and mysterious fortunes. But it is the women who have loved him who help him to appreciate violence’s dire cycle.Get LOGOS through Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
About the author: John Neeleman spends his days working as a trial lawyer in tall buildings in downtown Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife and children. He also represents death row inmates pro bono in Louisiana and Texas. As a novelist, his editorial model is historical fiction in a largely realistic mode, though there are hallucinatory passages that reflect Neeleman’s concern with philosophical and spiritual matters, in part a residue of his religious upbringing. He was raised as a seventh generation Mormon, and rebelled, but never outgrew his interest in metaphysical concerns.
Connect with John on his publisher’s website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads..