“He saw himself as a purifying fire – while the Nazarenes saw only a destructive blaze. Now everything was about to change. The flame of truth had been lit and he was destined to bear its torch.”
This novel, written for adults, depicts Paul the Apostle from birth to the end of his first missionary journey. There are many books about this great man, but this is something fresh and different; a ‘back story’ creating warm empathy with a complex man who is both anguished and admirable, flawed and likeable. Far more than a mere ‘character’, here the passionate Shaul Benjamin of Tarsus steps out of the New Testament pages, coming to life in a story of ambition, failure, and redemption.
Faithful to the New Testament record, this fictional work takes the reader on a journey. It is a robust story of Jewish experience and travel in the first century Roman empire, and the birth of a momentous new world faith.
A junior version of this book by the same author is available for younger readers, under the title “The Torchbearer”.
Susan Knight –
Review by Alex Szollo
A TIME TO ACT: a gripping, emotional fictional portrait of the man who spread Christianity.
I have had a soft spot for Biblical fiction for a long time now. My almost lifelong fascination with the historical figures who shaped Christianity has taken me on many journeys of the mind and heart into the life and times of Christ and his apostles. The latest worthy addition to my wealth of novels set during the days of the early Church is A TIME TO ACT, by SJ Knight.
Though connected to the previously reviewed trilogy, this novel falls into the more specific category of biographical Biblical fiction, focusing its attention on Shaul, later known as Paul the Apostle, a man of remarkable intensity in his conviction.
The reader follows Shaul from his very birth, sharing the excitement of his parents as he is delivered into the world, a scrawny little underdog willing himself on into life by the awesome capacity of his mind, rather than the brute strength of his body.
Of all the fiction I have read about the life of the Apostle Paul, this book offers the most emotional representation of his intensity, and shows a man willing to risk deteriorating his relationship with his own family for the sake of what he sees as preserving the Law of Moses. Never before have I read such a stirring, gripping depiction of what he was willing to do for his faith. Ms. Knight delves deeply into the mind of the Shaul that very well might have roamed the world, first as a persecutor, then as a fervent, wholly dedicated believer in Christ, and shows a man who is often at odds with himself in the mission he’s been given. Much like all of us.
This book follows the style of the trilogy, and puts flesh on the historical and scriptural figure of Paul of Tarsus, giving readers a compelling picture of a completely relatable Saint Paul, which, in my view, makes it a guaranteed success in the field of Biblical fiction. Ten out of five for a stellar portrayal of a colossus of the Christian faith and his times. Cannot wait to see how the story further unfolds, regardless of how much I have to wait for it!