Monday, December 31, 2007

Doctor Luke's Assistant

For the next few posts, I'll talk about my other works in progress. Documenting America will likely be my main focus for a month or so, but I want to get some thoughts down on these other things.

Doctor Luke's Assistant is a novel about the writing of the gospel of Luke, told through the point of view of a Jewish scrivener he hires as a research assistant. Luke returns to Israel to write a massive biography of Jesus, intending for it to be multiple volumes. Knowing he, as a Gentile, can't get in to certain places or talk with certain Jews, he hires a Jew for the job. Augustus comes from a Jewish family that was partial to Roman rule, and far away from the practice of Judaism. He works for Luke only because he has lost his job with the Roman government. So the expected circumstances are not there: Luke, the Gentile, follows the teaching of a Jewish rabbi, while Augustus, the Jew, prays to no God.

Beginning in Bethlehem, Luke and Augustus research Christ's life in a series of interviews, document searches, and a lot of luck--that is Augustus calls it luck, while Luke calls it answers to prayer. Over a three year time frame, the book is written. It is the size of the Bible we know now, or larger when the research notes are added. In a month Luke will sail to Rome with the finished product.

During the three years, the researchers are hounded by both the Roman government and the Jewish establishment, neither of whom want the book written. Augustus chances to run in to a school chum who works for Rome, and another one who works for the high priest. He doesn't see that these two are bringing reports back to their employers, who can then harrass Luke and Augustus. The situation with Rome is not helped when Luke runs afoul of Cladius Aurelius, a scheming, corrupt assistant to the governor. Aurelius dogs Lukes steps and does much to hinder the work. Still, the book is written.

Later I'll write more on this, about how Augustus nearly causes the work to cease.

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