The Damascus Way

Posted on August 31, 2011 by

The Damascus Way is actually the third in a short series about life and times in the Early Church, right after the resurrection of the Christ. I read it as part of my homeschooling research, and I’ve decided to give it a hearty recommendation to other parents. This would make a great follow-up to reading the Book of Acts.

I loved this book! The authors have taken pains with historical accuracy and environmental details, which adds a richness to the story that many historical fiction novels for young people sorely lack. There was adventure and romance, but nothing gruesome, obscene, or disturbing. Although the reading level was rather low (8th grade, perhaps), the story wasn’t dumbed-down at all, but rather written in a plain-spoken and clearly-structured manner. The writing is clean, the prose is neat, mature topics are discussed, and the storyline doesn’t drag or bore anywhere. It would be appropriate for adults (I enjoyed it), high schoolers, and advanced middle schoolers.

It is obvious that the series has both a male and female author, as neither sex gets short-changed, caricatured, or reduced. The men are masculine and loving, the women are feminine and intelligent, and their interactions are healthy and in keeping with the principles of the faith. The male and female protagonists get equal play, and I think the book would appeal to both sexes. I suspect they’re marketing these non-girly books to girls because it is generally assumed that boys don’t read.

Many of the big names of the Early Church make a convincing appearance, such as Saul of Tarsus (the antagonist in the story), Philip, Martha, Stephen, etc., but there’s no hint of name-dropping and they are woven seamlessly into the story without much fanfare. There is, for instance, no hint at all that Saul would eventually become St. Paul. He is portrayed simply how he was at the time, until the last minute. This gives the reader the feeling of being a contemporary; someone who also doesn’t know what will happen next. There are miracles, sermons, and visions, but the book isn’t so weighed-down by magic, theology, or saccharin moralizing that it starts to become tiresome.

The look into the life of the Early Church is especially interesting. Especially the fact that the Church was a very inter-ethnic affair, with the members being near-outcasts and therefore a tight-knit group. Another thing that really hit home after reading this book was the fact that the Early Church had no Bible. It seems silly to have not noticed that before, but reading the descriptions of how the Early Church functioned finally brought that to the fore for me.

So, all in all, excellent book, highly recommended, and I hope they continue the series.

Posted in: Book Review