Religious faith, whether you have it or you don't, it's impossible not to have strong opinions on the matter. Having been raised in a conservative Pentecostal home, faith has shaped much of who I am even though I now prefer to be independently spiritual rather than tied to any organized religion (but that's probably a post for another day).
Like many, I've always wondered how decrees and doctrines written thousands of years ago are relevant to the lives we lead today and just how much of the original holy books may have gotten lost in translation… or lost to time.
Author John Neeleman thinks about these things too, but instead of leaving them as nothing more than thoughts–the way I always have–he chooses to explore these questions in his writing. His debut novel LOGOS opens up the Bible and invites readers to step right into the world as Jesus left it shortly after his death. Beautifully written and heavily researched, LOGOS feels “right”, whatever that means. Yes, it is a fictional imagining of Christianity's origins, but that doesn't make the lessons and journeys within any less meaningful. If anything, by openly calling itself fiction, the novel allows readers to become fully absorbed without having to stop and wonder if it really happened like that.
In theory, LOGOS could be taken at a purely surface level and read just for enjoyment, but I believe engaged, pensive readers will get the most out of this particular literary gem. Here's one of my favorite lines (because as you know, I am a crazy bird lady) to give you a small taste of the beautiful words that lay within…
Jacob saw all across the field before him a host of mounted warriors who were galloping in random patterns like migratory birds: flying here and there just for the pure pleasure of using their wings.
So whether you ascribe to a faith or not, I encourage you to give LOGOS a read and see what it reveals about your own beliefs. Enjoy!
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.