Beyond the Desert Gate

Book cover: 'Beyond the Desert Gate'
Mary Ray
Bethlehem Books
Number of pages: 
167 pages
Grade / Age level: 

Set in Palestine in the days leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., this is a beautiful and powerful story of a Greek family living in the city of Philadelphia. On one of his business journeys, their father, who is a merchant/businessman, rescues a man whom Roman soldiers had left in the desert to die. The merchant's three sons have diverse reactions to this stranger who becomes part of the household, but when the Father is killed by bandits on a later journey, it seems that this stranger without a memory may have a providential role in their future.

The story illustrates the struggles of those caught up in the brutality of Roman rule, the horror of the fall of Jerusalem and touches upon the mysteries of suffering and death. While dealing with the different sorts of reactions that people have to the evils of Rome, the story does highlight - albeit in a subtle way (as good literature should) - the true paths that Christ showed us. An especially interesting contrast can be seen between the courage of the Christians before death (inspired by Christ and given his grace) with the Jews rebelling against Rome (whose motivations involved patriotism, but also hate).

The story is not overly intense, gory, or otherwise objectionable, but dwells upon serious and mature themes of death and suffering in a way suitable to teens and adults. Although the book is a sequel to The Ides of April (which is not apparent until well into the book), it could be read on its own as well.

Additional notes: 

Copyrights 1977/2001

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