One of my new favorite historical fiction series is the Acts of Faith series by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke. The third book, The Damascus Way just came out and Jon gave me a copy for Christmas. I already had read The Centurion's Wife and The Hidden Flame earlier in the summer and couldn't wait for the arrival of the final book.
All of the books are set in the time period of the book of Acts and involve the character's journey to faith in Jesus Christ. Bunn and Oke weave salvation into extremely captivating stories and truely bring characters from the Bible to life. I was truly sad to read the last page of the third book since this meant the end of the series.
The Centurion's Wife is the story of Leah, servant to Pontius Pilate's wife, and Alban, a Roman Centurion. Alban is sent by Pilate to determine if the story of the resurrection of Jesus is real, to find his body, and determine if the disciples plan a revolt. Procula, Pilate's wife, sends Leah on her own journey to discover who this Jesus truly was. Leah and Alban's paths intertwine as they encounter the disciples and are transformed by the message of Jesus's life.
The Hidden Flame continues with Abigail as she is being pursued by a Roman soldier and a Jewish merchant, neither of which share her faith. The story again continues through the formation of the early church as we see in Acts and we meet characters like Martha, Stephen, Saul, and Ananias and Sapphira. Bunn and Oke expand on each of these characters and I enjoyed their portrayal of each. The knowledge of what happens in Scripture by no means detracts from the story line and in fact enhanced the tension that I felt as I read.
The final book is The Damascus Way and Julia is introduced while Abigail's storyline is continued. Martha, Philip, and Saul/Paul are brought to life from the pages of Scripture and I love to read different authors' interpretations of what our Bible heroes might have been truly thinking and feeling. This book shows the beginning of the persecution of the church and how the church was spreading even unto the ends of the earth.
I highly recommend these books and if you are looking for a fun read that is steeped in Biblical truth, this series is perfect for you. Bunn and Oke help transform the characters of the Bible to living people and have challenged me to think about what they might have thought and felt as they did not have the advantage of knowing how their story ended. Today we have the entire Bible at our finger tips but Stephen, Saul/Paul, Martha, and the disciples all lived and experienced what we too often take for granted. The character of Martha was especially thought provoking for me because I have always been taught that I should have a Mary heart yet often I identify with Martha's frenzy as she prepared a meal for important people. Bunn and Oke made Scripture come alive while writing about fictional characters.