Seeing the Life by Sophie Dawson
A good historical fiction transports it readers back in time, to live, breathe and see through another person’s eyes. We should feel that we are right there living the life of our fictional characters, walking in their footsteps and feeling what they feel. Seeing the Life is this type of fiction. The author, Sophie Dawson, successfully transports us back 2,000 years to the time of the Roman Empire at its peak. We get to peer through the eyes of a young couple, Dassa and Micah, who at the opening of this story live in Bethlehem, Israel.
Micah Ben Perez was a scribe by trade. He worked for many business owners on their books and accounts, but his first love was copying the Tanahk. He loved God with all his heart. Dassa bat Eli lived with her parents at their Inn. She grew up learning how to cook and serve meals for large crowds. She was at the Inn when Mary and Joseph arrived for the census. She was present at Yeshua’s birth and was astounded when the impossible happened: a virgin gave birth to a baby boy. When she told Micah, he knew exactly which Scriptures referred to this incident. He kept this knowledge in his heart.
While Dassa befriended Mary, Micah and Joseph became good friends. With Joseph’s carpentry skills helping the young couple build a home and fixing up one for his own little family to live in, word got out and he made a good living for Mary and Yeshua. The two couples lived near each other for the next two years. Mary attended the birth of Dassa’s firstborn, little Perez named in honor of Micah’s abba (father).
One night, after everyone was in bed sleeping, Micah heard frantic pounding on his front door. It was Joseph who told him of a dream where an angel of God told him to take his family and flee Bethlehem because King Herod was seeking to kill their young son. The couple wished each other a sad good-bye before Joseph’s family departed. When Micah tried to give Joseph some money for the journey, he was told of the gifts some rich men had given them earlier–men who had followed a star to find them. Once again, Micah kept these facts in his mind along with other prophesies that had been fulfilled.
Only a few weeks later, soldiers raided Bethlehem killing baby boys two years old and younger. Micah heard the news and rushed home only to find Dassa holding the body of their son in stunned grief. So many families had lost their little ones that the air was filled with the wails of grieving. Micah was once again aware of a prophecy that had been fulfilled. He began writing down these events and the related Scriptures to ponder them in his heart.
A few years later Micah and Dassa moved to Jerusalem. Micah had become Joseph of Arimethea’s steward and his family began to grow and prosper. His family and Joseph’s family struck up a friendship. One day, while celebrating Panach (Passover), Dassa found Mary in the Temple in Jerusalem. The two families celebrated a happy reunion; Dassa and Micah asked Mary and Joseph to stay with them during the feast days. From then on, the two families saw each other regularly. Yeshua and his brothers and sisters called Dassa doda (aunt) and Micah dod (uncle).
This story’s events are familiar to us, especially once Jesus had begun his ministry as rabbi at the age of 30. Micah kept record of these milestones after Joseph shared with the family what they experienced in Egypt and when they moved again to Nazareth. The author allows us to see these events through Micah and Dassa’s eyes. By having the couple’s children, now young people themselves, follow Yeshua’s steps, we get an up close and personal view of how the family and other local Jewish people viewed his words and actions. Because of the typical mindset of the times, so many were baffled by Jesus’ teachings and healings. Was he preparing for a physical kingdom here on earth to deliver them from the Romans or wasn’t he?
The most memorable part of the book for me was the ugly realism of the events of Jesus’ final weeks on earth. We experience the horror of those days anew as we see them through the lives of Jesus’ close friends and family. Their suffering becomes our pain throughout His betrayal, the torture and His death on the Roman cross. We feel with Mary when Dassa rushes to her side to comfort her.
In contrast, the author’s retelling of the forty days after Yeshua’s resurrection expresses the wonder of discovery, believers’ new sense of purpose and hope, and the new direction for believers when they were first called Christians and had begun to be persecuted for their beliefs in Jesus as their Lord and God.
I am impressed with the amount of detailed research the author employed in building this incredible historical fiction. At times it was heartwarming and filled with the love of family, intriguing as some of Yeshua’s followers sought to build up a stash of weapons in case He wanted to start His kingdom on earth, and exciting to see new birth, new life when people placed their trust in Him after His resurrection. This book fired up my imagination and challenged me to view familiar biblical events with a fresh perspective.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially with works that feature biblical events. The usual precaution needs to be expressed here for the reader to be sure to separate the facts from the fiction and speculation by reading about the actual occurrences in the Scripture. In fact, a really good historical fiction should create in us a desire to read God’s Word for ourselves. I believe this books does this successfully.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Story Cartel on behalf of the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”