Currently Reading: Dear and Glorious Physician
Author: Taylor Caldwell
Synopsis: After forty-six years of research and writing, Caldwell gave the world a novel telling the life story of St. Luke--author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts--from his early childhood through his interview with the mother of Christ. Lucanus begins with pure and mystic faith, but after a tragic loss determines to fight God by becoming a doctor and snatching people from the point of death. His apotheosis from angry young student to physician and Gospel-writer involves facing the worst of human suffering and weakness, the wisdom of many teachers, miracles, and a lifetime of being patiently loved.
It has always been difficult for me to read novels based on the life of Bible characters. Having studied the Bible (and, to some extent, the surrounding times) pretty thoroughly, I have a hard time suspending disbelief. Such a novel usually focuses on how "they were just like us," rarely taking into account the fact that the worldview of another time and place, being different from ours, meant that the emotional reactions to any given idea were actually not the same as ours.
The amount of thought and research put into this work did fascinate me, however. Caldwell writes with knowledge of Eastern and Western thought at the time of Christ, and blends the two into an interesting meld of philosophy, science and mysticism drawn from the Greek, Latin, Jewish and Babylonian cultures. Her descriptions are intense and detailed, and the characters keep their heads in the time instead of parading around as postmoderns in togas and wimples.
It isn't an easy read--the thing is 550 long pages, and far more given to introspection and imagery than suspense--but it was at least intriguing and thought-provoking.