Book Review

Jun 23rd, 2020 | Category: Book Reviews
By Shirley Morgenthaler


   Fourth Dawn (2005)

   Fifth Seal (2006) 

   Sixth Covenant (2007) 

   by Bodie and Brock Thoene

   Tyndale Fiction

Part of a Twelve-Book Series on the Life and Times in Israel during the Earthly Life of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Messiah

      Discover the truth through fiction? I agree! I have always been a fan of historical fiction. For decades. When I was parenting preschoolers, I discovered historical fiction set in Bible times. I was hooked!!

      Sometime in this decade just past I discovered Bodie and Brock Thoene (it’s Tay-nee, they are quick to tell you). Now I’m really hooked. The opening phrase of this review is, I believe, their mission statement. I have read the Galway Chronicles, the Shiloh Legacy, and 90% of the A.D. Chronicles, all by the Thoenes. My love of historical fiction has yet to be sated.

      The books I am reviewing here each contain about 300 pages of story, moving between several sets of important characters, telling the story through the eyes of a variety of people. The books are liberally sprinkled with Scripture paraphrases. Each of those drops of wisdom is referenced in an endnote, taking the reader to the appropriate Bible reference. Each of the three nativity books contains about 140 such references, making it an average of one Bible paraphrase for every two to three pages of story.

      Included at the back of each book is a study guide of six topics. These guides have been fashioned in such a way that they could be used by either an individual or a small group. Given the six topics, I would suggest a six-week Bible study with a small group. I have spent time with each end-guide and found these resources to be very useful as an individual meditation and reflection. I think, however, that I would like even more to enter into a discussion with others. It just feels like it would be a richer experience.

      In Fifth Seal, the volume in which Jesus is born in a mostly-deserted lambing cave in Bethlehem, the clarity of the truth comes shining through the pages of this almost-fiction story. It has never been more clear to me that God’s principle of freedom of choice covered a lot more than just Adam’s and Eve’s choice of whether to eat the fruit Satan was offering them. Even Mary had a choice! Do I think God already knew what her choice would be? Yes. But do I also wonder where God would have taken that choice if she had refused? You betcha!

      No, I’m not in danger of becoming an atheist, or even an agnostic with these thoughts. Instead, I think these questions actually are strengthening my faith in the TRUTH of God’s Word. ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God (John 1: 1-2). Going back to Genesis, God uses Moses to tell us that the Word spoke the world into existence. That’s the same Word that John writes about many centuries later. Did God have a plan? You betcha!!

      One of the questions about the Virgin Birth that has niggled at me for years is why in all the world Jesus would choose to come as a fetus rather than an adult. Why did he come as a zygote, not a teenager? Or a two-celled babe-in-waiting, not fully-formed rabbinical scholar? As an early childhood educator, I am in awe of the choices God made for this salvation story. God miraculously placed his Son, our Messiah, fully God and fully Man, his entire essence, into Mary’s womb and stayed there for nine months before allowing himself to see the light of day! The day he had created in the first place!! If you knew what he knows, would you have made the same choice? More basically, would you or I have chosen to even create the world, knowing that several millennia later, you would find yourself in the womb of a virgin, escaping to Egypt for your life, being maligned by all the religious leaders of your day, and even hanging on a cross to pay for the sins of all those ungrateful people you created?

      Think about the wonder that all of the fullness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in Jesus. How exactly does that work? At the same time, how does it work for any of us? Everything we will ever be is there from the beginning. Right from the start. What a great God we have! What a great creation we are!! What a creative mastermind it is that made us and all there is!!!

      This is not our usual academic fare to be found in an academic journal. But make no mistake. This topic is of far greater importance than anything we study academically. This topic has eternal ramifications. It’s the stuff of which our heavenly trajectory is made. This has eternal consequences! Don’t ever take your faith for granted. LEJ