Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Love Divine, by Alexandra Ripley

I read this book in April, 2013. It is no longer in my possession.

A historical fiction based on Joseph of Arimethea, the one in whose tomb Jesus was buried. He was described in the Bible as a "secret follower" of Christ. This novel describes what the author imagines could have been his life before and after his encounter with the crucified Christ.

I should refrain from reading novels based on events in the Bible. I get so annoyed when they get details wrong. Although Scripture clearly states that Joseph was a secret follower of Jesus at the time of the crucifixion, the book puts his conversion some time after. There is no mention of Nicodemas, who accompanied Joseph and carried the 75 pounds of myrrh and other spices. A major theme carrying the plot was the requirement in Jewish law that a man and wife must divorce if they have no children in ten years of marriage. What nonsense! What about Zechariah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist in their old age? Not to mention Abraham and Sarah. Not relying on my own knowledge, I searched Judaism 101 and Jewish Marriage and Family in the Ancient World at My Jewish Learning and there was nothing to indicate that this was true.

Other than these major errors (in my opinion), I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and was very interested in Joseph's travels and adventures. It is an epic, carrying us from Joseph's youth in a farming village to his becoming a seaman, then a captain, then an important trader with a fleet of ships. His rich life included friends, relatives, and lovers, Jews, Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Gauls, Germans, Celts, and Druids, from the Emperor to the lowliest slave.

Legend has it that he traveled as far as Cornwall, then known as Albion. He stuck his staff into the ground when he arrived in the dead of winter, and it miraculously grew and blossomed! Today it is known as the Thorn of Glastonbury.

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