Because I spend most of my time reading technical works of spiritual theology, my imagination suffers. Realizing this I decided to take up a work of fiction that I thought would help reignite some creative thinking. In my selection I believed that the author (Michael O’Brien) would help me achieve this goal while at the same time providing me unique spiritual insights as he has in the past. This he did, and then some. Theophilos is a fantastic work that would benefit anyone looking for healthy fiction that will both entertain and enhance their imaginative powers as they pray. This book helped me to encounter Christ in a way that I did not expect but that was more than welcome. I heartily recommend it – particularly to those who might struggle with discursive or Ignatian forms of mental prayer. This book will enrich your imagination regarding Christ and the historical reality of his redemptive sojourn among us.
Theophilos, A Novel, by Michael D. O’Brien
St. Luke addressed his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles to a man named Theophilos.
Who was Theophilos? Scripture scholars do not know, making him a fit subject for Michael O’Brien’s vivid imagination. In this fictional narrative, Theophilos is the skeptical but beloved adoptive father of St. Luke. Challenged by the startling account of the “Christos” received in the chronicle from his beloved son Luke and concerned for the newly zealous young man’s fate, Theophilos, a Greek physician and an agnostic, embarks on a search for Luke to bring him home. He is gravely concerned about the deadly illusions Luke has succumbed to regarding the incredible stories surrounding Jesus of Nazareth, a man of contradictions who has caused so much controversy throughout the Roman Empire.
Thus begins a long journey that will take Theophilos deep into the war between nations and empires, truth and myth, good and evil, and into unexpected dimensions of his very self. His quest takes the reader into four ancient civilizations – the Greek, Roman, Jewish, and that of Christianity at its birth, where he meets those who knew this man that some believe is the Messiah.
Though Theophilos is a man of the past ages, he is as familiar to us as the men of our own times. Schooled in the empiricism of both medicine and philosophy, Theophilos is well suited to speak to our age in which seeing cannot be the basis for faith, but rather hearing the witness of those who have been touched by God and opening ourselves to the possibility of an encounter with the living Christ. This is a story about the mysterious interaction of faith and reason, the psychology of perception, and the power of love over death.
Michael O’Brien, iconographer, painter and writer, is the popular author of many best-selling novels including Father Elijah, Strangers and Sojourners, Eclipse of the Sun, Sophia House and Island of the World. He lives in Combermere, Ontario with his wife and six children.
“An arresting work. Totally credible both historically and psychologically. There’s not a single false note in this music. Do you want to get into a time machine and actually live in the first century world? Then read this book!”
– Peter Kreeft Professor of Philosophy Boston College
“O’Brien again takes up the theme of the truth of revelation before an unbelieving generation. This novel searches the soul of our time through the eyes of St. Luke and Theophilos and those they encountered, including the Lord Himself. O’Brien brings to life the wonder that filled the soul of Luke.”
– James V. Schall, SJ, Professor of Political Philosophy, Georgetown University
“All of Michael O’Brien’s novels are in a sense ‘historical,’ even those often regarded as ‘prophetic.’ Theophilos, set long ago in the first century and meticulously researched, is finely textured, lush and convincing in its depiction of the rich embroglio of Mediterranean culture in the time of the apostles. The epistolary prose is hauntingly provocative, often lyrical, compelling in its characterization of the events reported in Luke and Acts as they might be considered from a learned gentile’s point of view. This is a beautiful book.”
– David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University
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