Yesterday, I met with a friend at the library and while I was waiting had a chance to walk through the 'New Book' section. That's a very dangerous section for me! Especially the fiction. I admit, I love to read fiction. However, once I start a fiction book, I have a hard time putting it down and doing anything else.
I know that about myself, but still picked up a new book by two of my favorite authors, Davis Bunn and Jeanette Oke. I've been reading these authors since I was in high school and college and own many books by each of them. They've co-authored a whole series of books, which I started but never finished (hummm, I guess I have reading material for the beach this summer!). They're starting another series and the first book is The Centurion's Wife.
I started it last night. And finished it today. Admittedly, I'm a fast reader. I also stayed up WAY too late last night, then came home from church this morning, ate a quick lunch and finished it this afternoon, leaving Glen in charge of the kids. (I tell you - I cannot stop once I start!)
The basic story is about a servant in the house of Pontius Pilate (Leah) and a Roman centurion (Alban) during the time of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. They end up betrothed (to Leah's consternation), and investigating Jesus' resurrection on behalf of Pilate & his wife.
I enjoyed it - the characters and their stories intrigued me and the authors developed them well. The plot also held my attention. The thing that interested me the most, though, was the authors' interpretation of the historical time period.
My most favorite authors are Brock and Bodie Thoene. They've written dozens of novels, most recently about the same time period - when Jesus walked on earth. One of their main characters in those books is also a Roman centurion. They also include Mary Magdalene in their books.
In Thoene's books, Mary, Martha & Lazarus are a wealthy family in Bethany, a little village outside of Jerusalem. The Roman centurion is the one mentioned in the Gospels - Jesus heals his servant and commends the centurion's faith. The centurion comes face-to-face with Jesus and cares deeply for his servant. His struggle is how to reconcile his faith with his job (and his love for Mary Magdalene).
In Davis/Oke's book, Mary, Martha & Lazarus are very poor and Bethany is described as hardly a village at all - more a grouping of poorly-built hovels. Alban, the Roman centurion, cares deeply about his servant, but never met Jesus face-to-face when asking for his servant's healing. Throughout the book, he struggles with why Jesus commended his faith when he doesn't know what that faith is.
I don't think one interpretation is right and the other is wrong - just something interesting to think about.