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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bread of Angels

Tessa Afshar is the Christy Award-winning author of several works of biblical fiction.  She holds an MDiv from Yale University, where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity school.  She has worked full-time in ministry ever since.

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Purple.  The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men.  One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship.  And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she becomes Lydia, the seller of purple, she is simply a merchant's daughter who loves three things:  her father, her ancestral home, and making dye.  Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father's secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish a business on her own.  Determination and serendipitous acquaintances - along with her father's precious dye formula - help her become on of the city's preeminent merchants.  But fear lingers in every shadow until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming the first Christian in all of Europe.  Still, Lydia can't outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruined her life.

My Thoughts:
There is a handful of authors who write Christian/Historical Fiction who I follow religiously.  Tessa Afshar is one of the few.  She amazes me with her impeccable research and expert attention to detail. Bread of Angels is the first in an expected series from Afshar highlighting obscure characters from the New Testament of the Bible.
I've always been curious about Lydia, the seller of purple who is mentioned in the book of Acts. Afshar brings Lydia's story to life without compromising the truth of the Scriptures with her artistic liberties.  In fact, I'm not sure I've read many other Biblical fiction titles with a more clear picture of the gospel than Bread of Angels.  
"Did He hold you in the palm of His hand when your father tried to force you to marry a brutal man?  Or when he renounced you and threw you out of his home?  I mean no disrespect, Rebekah, but if this is an example of what your god's palm looks like, I would rather be under His foot."  Astonishingly, Rebekah laughed, "He does not always keep us from danger, but He preserve us in danger.  I have known hardship, buy my heart has felt secure in His steadfast love."
"The Lord mediates His provision by curious means.  When you least expect it.  Where you least expect it."
Afshar's introduction of the apostle Paul in the second half of the book was done brilliantly.  And her presentation of the gospel and Paul's ministry is nothing short of a masterpiece.  Afshar transports readers into another world and she draws readers into the lives of the characters without displacing biblical truth.
*I was given a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions expressed here are my own.