Three friends, two cultures, and one faith. Thus begins the life-changing journey to Jerusalem for Saul of Tarsus, his best friend, Stephanos, and Stephanos' little sister, Irini. Young Saul finds the meaning of his life when he meets Rabboni Gamaliel, a great teacher of the law. But that same day shatters the world of Stephanos and Irini with the sudden death of their father.
After years when Saul studies scripture at Jerusalem's great Temple, while Stephanos and Irini struggle to survive in Tarsus, the three friends reunite, but under far different circumstances. The rule of Rome and the rise of rabbis like John the Baptist have transformed Palestine into a cauldron boiling over with political and religious anger. The death of Jesus a few years later throws the Jewish world into discord. While Stephanos embraces Jesus as Messiah and forgiver of all sins, Saul remains true to the law and traditions both boys have learned since childhood.
"All forgiveness does is set you free; it lets you think just about yourself. Honor is a different thing. You know it as a Greek, not only as a Jew. Honor is what makes you strong. It binds you to your past. It shapes your life with form and meaning," Saul explains to Stephanos.
This novel looks deeply into two distinct world views, the Hellenic and the Jewish. Along the way, stories of slaves becoming freedmen, people seeking their roots, and souls questioning their beliefs intersect with the start of a new faith later called Christianity.
The author has combined her years as translator, creative artist, journalist, and Christian thinker to depict a history relevant to the interfaith struggles of our own century. The cross-dressing Irini, the honor-bound Saul, and the unknowingly heroic Stephanos will live in readers' minds long after the close of this volume.
Elizabeth L. Sammons' love of both scripture and Greek mythology dates back to childhood. So does her fascination with the story of Stephen the Protomartyr and his world. She holds an M.A. in journalism from The Ohio State University. She has lived in six countries, served in the Peace Corps, and taught a course called "The Art and Science of Simultaneous Interpreting." A highlight of her international life included interpreting for several traveling clergy of diverse faith backgrounds and finding the key to conveying their thoughts in cross-cultural settings. She has also done advocacy interpreting in the disability community. The author is open to conducting lectures and sharing thoughts almost anywhere, whether in English, French, or Russian.
This author intends the release of a second novel, With Best Intent, questioning the moral value of genetic testing, and is mapping a third, Translation of Bones, whose primary focus involves the spiritual dilemma of an interpreter who finds out too much about a cross-national cult.