Bible-based novels written for adults by S.J. Knight

 

A Time to Hear  (Book 1)

 

In the tiny lakeside community of Banayim, Galilee, the villagers long for the promised Messiah to save them from poverty and Roman rule. Meanwhile their work, quarrels, and gossip go on as usual. Young Dan, the motherless son of Shepherd Ammiel, is confused. Who is the Messiah? When will he come? And what does it all mean? However more immediate more worries crowd his mind. Will his father remarry? What about Aunt Etta and her lazy brother-in-law, Bukki?

Suddenly Dan’s narrow world expands as he meets his father’s first love, the gentle Anna of Cana, her scornful Greek brother, Loukanos, and irrepressible young cousin, Johanan, and the enigmatic Blind Mordecai.

When startling news comes of a bold prophet preaching in the wilderness of Judea, the family are determined to discover whether this is indeed their Messiah. They set out on a journey – a journey which will change everything. Each of them will hear more, learn more and lose more than they could ever have expected.

All of them will find more than they ever could have imagined.

This book may also be suitable for advanced younger readers.It was subsequently made into a musical, performed at the 2014 Christadelphian Conference in Melbourne, Australia, and published in book form in 2017. See details end of this list. 

 

A Time to See (Book 2)

 

The Nazarene is working miracles, so where is the promised Kingdom?  Life goes on as usual. But impatient Dan is no longer a child, and his growing confusion is shared by many.

“I don’t know where Loukanos is. I don’t know if he’s even alive. I don’t know how the Messiah will bring deliverance … I don’t know enough about anything that matters.”

Blind Mordecai has his own ideas, but the full story of the vanished Loukanos, intriguingly woven in and out of the narrative, will amaze them all.  Meanwhile the village has its own dramas to deal with. Anna and Etta must hide an alarming secret from the local gossip, while Dan and his friends race against time in a desperate search for  Loukanos and the Nazarene Teacher – and a madman.

The traumatic events  lead  to astonishing outcomes, and the family’s faith in Nazarene Jeshua has never been so confident.  They travel to Jerusalem for a joyful Passover, only to be unwittingly caught up in a whirlwind of shocking events.

Bitter grief struggles with stubborn faith.  Until a man appears in their midst. A man who has been dead, and is now alive. Everyone struggles to comprehend the enormity, nobody can anticipate the consequences.  One thing they know, nothing will ever be the same again.

 

A Time To Speak (Book 3)

 

 

Once it had been so simple. The flock, the family, the faith. But now Dan is a young man, and everything is complicated. Messiah has come, and gone, leaving them to continue the work begun … and life keeps getting in the way.

The Nazarene community is thriving against the odds, but communal living brings many challenges, and painful private emotions are rife.  Irresolvable heartache looms as Anna faces an impossible choice, while Dan and Johanan’s friendship is tested over Rhoda, but when fiery Rabbi Shaul has disciple Stefanos executed for blasphemy, all else is swept aside.

Escalating persecution scatters the household, with wide-ranging and unforseen consequences.  From Jerusalem to Jericho and up to Galilee and far beyond, old loyalties are strained, relationships rediscovered,  made or broken. Outwitting Rabbi Shaul is a matter of survival, but spite and betrayal threaten Dan, his family, and his village.

In the midst of  manifold perplexities – even tragedy and chaos –  however,  there is space for defiant celebration, absurdity and laughter – and  love is found in the most unexpected places.

 

A Time To Act  (Book 4)

   

     

 

This novel presents the life of Paul the Apostle from birth to the end of his first missionary journey. There are many books about this great man, but this is something fresh and different, a back story creating warm empathy with a complex man who is both anguished and admirable, flawed and likeable. Far more than a mere ‘character’, the passionate Saul Benjamin of Tarsus steps out of the New Testament pages, in a story of ambition, failure and redemption.

The childhood, formative years, friendships, and struggles of this driven man are all depicted in intriguing detail, with lively characters, believable incidents, and a well researched background.

The book also gives insight into what might have been behind the more unusual quirks of his strong personality, which shaped his outlook to life and the gospel.

Culturally relevant, and faithful to the New Testament record, this fictional work takes the reader on a revealing journey of love and laughter, fear and failure, tears and excitement.

For believers and non-believers alike, it is enjoyable as a robust story of Jewish experience and travel in the First Century Roman Empire, and the birth of a momentous new world faith.

A junior version of this book by the same author is also available for younger readers, under the title “The Torchbearer”. See details end of this list.

A Time to Strive – (Book 5)  

        

Paul and Barnabas are back in Antioch, with everyone rejoicing over their successful missionary journey, but already trouble looms ahead. With Judaisers threatening to fracture the brotherhood, a conference is called to restore unity and deal with the believers’ confusion.

Confusion in the private lives of individuals, however, is not so easy to resolve. Paul finds to his dismay that some inner battles must be re-fought, Loukanos is losing his zest, and in Banayim the past unexpectedly throws a long shadow over present happiness. Young and old wrestle with unruly private emotions – dreams, despair, dark secrets, unhappy revelations and sorrow, sorely test their faith. Yet threaded among their trials is hope and joy, laughter and love, and the assurance that they are not alone.

Continuing the narrative of many key characters in the series, A Time To Strive bridges a gap in the Acts record. Depicting private struggles of the early believers, it explores how these may have shaped attitudes and relationships in the ‘silent’ period leading up to Paul’s second journey.

To that end, it deals with the very human challenges faced by ordinary brothers and sisters, and the apostles, as they strove to live the message amidst the diverse cultural  backgrounds from which they were drawn.  A time  when the ‘glory days’ of the original unity and excitement were being overtaken by ecclesial and personal strife – when maintaining one’s own faith and zeal was harder, yet more important, than ever.  In this there are many relevant echoes for us today.

The Torchbearer

A junior version of A Time To Act, this story of Paul was written for younger readers. This second edition has been reprinted in paperback.

 

Who was Paul before he became an apostle? What kind of person was he? He was born hundreds of miles away from the Holy Land, so how did he end up in Jerusalem, bent on destroying all the followers of Jesus?  What happened to him after Jesus stopped him in his tracks on the road to Damascus? What was life like back then, two thousand years ago? How did he and his friend Barnabas manage  to spread the gospel over hundreds of miles of Gentile territory?

This fictional story, depicting his life from birth to the end of his first missionary journey, suggests how it might have been.

Author’s Note: (copied from book preface)

Scriptural narrative is usually economical in its use of words. It is this which gives it such power – and forces us to think. However, it is sometimes difficult for us to see the people in the Bible as real. It is hard to realise that they also had mothers and fathers, they experienced childhood, they had to learn, and grow up.

They were not mere actors on a stage, only appearing in certain Bible scenes, but they lived full lives – eating, sleeping, working, talking, crying and laughing – in an everyday environment. Though their culture was very different from our own, they were people just like us.

The events in Acts are the foundation of this fictional story about the great apostle Paul. Everything else is supposition, based on what is known about the times in which he lived. Imagination is used to paint a picture of his early life, to help the reader to relate to Paul as a real person, a friend to love, and an example to follow.

A Time To Hear – A Musical Stage Play (based on Book One) description follows pictures

 

    

A Time To Hear – A Musical Stage Play

 

In the tiny lakeside community of Banayim, Galilee, the villagers long for the promised Messiah to save them from poverty and Roman rule. Meanwhile their work, quarrels, and gossip go on as usual. Young Dan, the motherless son of Shepherd Ammiel, is confused. Who is the Messiah? When will he come? And what does it all mean? However more immediate more worries crowd his mind. Will his father remarry? What about Aunt Etta and her lazy brother-in-law, Bukki? 

Suddenly Dan’s narrow world expands as he meets his father’s first love, the gentle Anna of Cana, her scornful Greek brother, Loukanos, and irrepressible young cousin, Johanan, and the enigmatic Blind Mordecai. 

When startling news comes of a bold prophet preaching in the wilderness of Judea, the family are determined to discover whether this is indeed their Messiah. They set out on a journey – a journey which will change everything. Each of them will hear more, learn more and lose more than they could ever have expected.

All of them will find more than they ever could have imagined.

Based on the novel by S.J. Knight, this uplifting musical stage play is a pleasure to read for its own sake.

Written for a flexible number of participants of all ages and abilities, it is particularly suitable for production by amateur groups. It may be performed as a voice play; staged as a radio play/script reading with participants in costume, and/or with songs/accompaniments pre-recorded. Its inaugural performance had a very inclusive, full cast of around 60, (aged approx 3 months to 80 years), but it may be staged with as few as ten or twelve actors, if the director is creative. The author is happy to be consulted and/or work with amateur producers/directors, if desired.

The book is thoughtfully arranged with script on right-hand pages, accompanied by sketches, comments and personal note space on the left. Directors will find Scene Analysis charts, and the wide range of optional cuts helpful to tailor the production to suit practicalities of time etc. There is also detailed costume concepts and props information, with an emphasis on producing the best effect on a very tight budget.

Music scores for piano are included, and orchestral scores are available by request to [email protected]

 

(Reviews for the first Trilogy (Hear/See/Speak) were published by The Testimony and The Christadelphian Magazine. Please see next page for independent, non-Christadelpian book reviews.)

 

Independent Reviews for A Time To Hear – A Musical Stage Play

“Poignant scripted dialog … with layers of religious overtones, themes, origins of truth and a sense of humanity, the story has drama, humor, Biblical references and challenges … resulting in a triumphant ending … A distinctive Hebrew inflection, harmony and tone … the music is a brilliant creation of chorus and solos.” (Pacific Book Review) 

http://www.pacificbookreview.com/a-time-to-hear/

“… the stuff of which dramatic musicals are made… contains all the elements that an amateur musical group needs to put on the play…This heart-warming read is part of a series by the author.” (US Review)

http://www.theusreview.com/reviews/A-Time-to-Hear-by-SJ-Knight.html#.WAg3WuUrKmw

Independent Reviews for A Time To Act

“… vividly rendered in a sweeping tale … an intriguing attempt to explore Paul’s many distinct personality traits, as a man at turns masterful, vengeful, proud, hateful, and brilliant. Failure, redemption, and self-identity are thoroughly explored through explosive storytelling and historical dramatization.” (Clarion Review) https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/a-time-to-act/

“… puts flesh on the Bible’s bare-bones biography… the author leavens his thickly textured account with equal parts invention and respect … best of all, he is true to the biblical original without slipping into a too-slavish devotion. Knight’s talent dazzles but never blinds. A devout yet deeply imaginative tale…”(Kirkus Review)

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/sj-knight/a-time-to-act/

Other Independent Reviews:

Link to Review A Time To Hear

https://alexszollo.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/a-time-to-hear-the-first-volume-in-what-may-be-my-favorite-series-of-biblical-novels-of-all-time/

 

Link to Review A Time To See

https://alexszollo.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/a-time-to-see-a-richly-rewarding-follow-up-from-the-most-compelling-newfound-voice-in-christian-historical-fiction/

 

Link to Review A Time To Speak

https://alexszollo.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/a-time-to-speak-the-sprawling-conclusion-to-my-favorite-biblical-fiction-trilogy-of-all-time/

 

Link to Review A Time To Act

https://alexszollo.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/a-time-to-act-a-gripping-emotional-fictional-portrait-of-the-man-who-spread-christianity/

 

Link to Review A Time To Strive

https://alexszollo.wordpress.com/2019/01/03/a-time-to-strive-a-sobering-inspiring-saga-of-the-early-church/ 

Review by S.Hicks (Halifax St, Adelaide)

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