Official Review: In the Grip of God by George Cargill

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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teacherjh
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Official Review: In the Grip of God by George Cargill

Post by teacherjh » 07 Oct 2018, 23:07

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "In the Grip of God" by George Cargill.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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I don’t read much historical fiction, but when I find a story that is based on the biblical narrative, I make an exception. In the Grip of God – Journey into Corinth by George Cargill follows the travels of the apostle Paul on a missionary journey. I love how this author filled out the story with historical research and artist’s license. The characters really come alive and the reader is able to see the progression of God’s leading on Paul.

The story starts with Paul’s arrival in Corinth. The author gives some background information on the city including an explanation of the prevailing religion of worshiping Aphrodite. The culture of the city is further portrayed when Paul is accosted by a prostitute and her handler who do not want to take no for an answer. The character of Paul is developed in this as well. We see him feeling anger, temptation, and guilt. He is portrayed as a real person, not an untouchable holy man.

The story follows Paul as he finds a job and meets fellow Christians who had fled persecution in Rome. The first new converts are from their household, followed by a dramatic healing and conversion of the very man who accosted Paul in town. The little church begins to grow in numbers and in the knowledge of God. At first, they continue to worship at the synagogue explaining that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jewish scripture. More converts join, but eventually, they are persecuted and expelled from the temple. Paul continues fearlessly to preach and teach at the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I was impressed with the author’s emphasis on Jesus’ teaching of equality in the church. Too many people believe that the Bible subjugates women and promotes slavery. This author brings just the opposite to light. The women of the early Christian church often took leadership roles and they, along with slaves, were treated with respect. Additionally, Paul breaks down the walls of racism as he eats and fellowships with Gentiles. His example is seen as radical counter-culturalism, but the other believers begin to follow his example.

I love how the author weaves biblical references into the story. Often in prayer or sermon, Paul will say something that later would become scripture. Also, there were some interesting historical facts included. For instance, I have always wondered how Jesus or the apostles were able to address large crowds and be heard without any sound system. At one point in this novel, it is revealed that large vessels of water were used to amplify sound. Also, throughout the crowd people called repeaters would be carrying the message. How ingenious.

I was a little surprised when the author set forth that Paul had an ex-wife who had divorced him when he proclaimed faith in Jesus. I had never read a theory of Paul being married. Equally jarring to me was the premise that Paul and Lydia were in love and chose not to pursue a relationship. I have not found support for this theory either though it is not impossible. It would be interesting to know what research the author had to support these particular plot lines.

George Cargill is a skilled author who uses vivid imagery and figurative language to make this well-known saint’s life come alive. For this reason, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. Anyone interested in the story of the early church and faith in Christ will find great value in this book.

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In the Grip of God
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Post by Samy Lax » 09 Oct 2018, 23:00

It's fascinating to see how the other believers follow Paul's example. Looks like a book I'd enjoy.

Great review!
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Post by ParadoxicalWoman » 10 Oct 2018, 01:29

From your review alone, Apostle Paul comes alive to me. How much more the experience will be when I read this book. I do agree with the theory that Apostle Paul had an ex-wife because from what I've learnt in Jewish tradition, for a man to be a Pharisee, he must be married first. I was amazed when you mentioned the vessels of water were used to amplify the sound. Now I find this book to be irresistible. Thanks for your detailed and compelling review!
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Post by wendos » 10 Oct 2018, 02:38

The book sounds appealing to me. I have also been wondering how these preachers could minister to such large crowds with a P.A.
I am going to look this book.

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Post by kandscreeley » 10 Oct 2018, 10:24

I enjoy books like this if they follow the biblical narrative closely. This one sounds like it does. I like Paul and would love to hear more about his journeys and life. Thanks.
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Post by teacherjh » 10 Oct 2018, 11:09

ParadoxicalWoman wrote: ↑
10 Oct 2018, 01:29
From your review alone, Apostle Paul comes alive to me. How much more the experience will be when I read this book. I do agree with the theory that Apostle Paul had an ex-wife because from what I've learnt in Jewish tradition, for a man to be a Pharisee, he must be married first. I was amazed when you mentioned the vessels of water were used to amplify the sound. Now I find this book to be irresistible. Thanks for your detailed and compelling review!
Thanks for the historical insight. I hope you love the book.

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Post by MsTri » 10 Oct 2018, 11:41

Ohmigosh, I am soooooooooooo jealous! If you peruse my reviews, you'll see that I too love stories based on Biblical narratives (in fact, my last review, not yet posted, was about Lucifer's fall from Heaven). I really like the idea of this one, as well, as Paul's one of my favorite Bible characters, and I love that the author portrays him "as a real person, not an untouchable holy man." Thanks SO much for the review; this one's definitely going on my MUST Have list!

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Post by CommMayo » 10 Oct 2018, 12:20

This isn't my genre, but I'm happy that you found a book you enjoyed so thoroughly. It sounds like it brought up some interesting questions for you and gave you some fodder to think about.

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Post by sonya01 » 10 Oct 2018, 14:47

Being raised in a home where Bible stories were read to us a night, I am more than familiar with most of them. Its so nice to re-read these accounts as an adult, especially when the tales have been embellished by some creative writing. There is always something new to glean from the re-telling of such events, even if it is just a different perspective. Many thanks for the review - it seems like you really enjoyed this book.

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Post by teacherjh » 10 Oct 2018, 18:01

MsTri wrote: ↑
10 Oct 2018, 11:41
Ohmigosh, I am soooooooooooo jealous! If you peruse my reviews, you'll see that I too love stories based on Biblical narratives (in fact, my last review, not yet posted, was about Lucifer's fall from Heaven). I really like the idea of this one, as well, as Paul's one of my favorite Bible characters, and I love that the author portrays him "as a real person, not an untouchable holy man." Thanks SO much for the review; this one's definitely going on my MUST Have list!
The author is really skilled also which made it a joy to read. Enjoy.

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Post by teacherjh » 11 Oct 2018, 10:17

kandscreeley wrote: ↑
10 Oct 2018, 10:24
I enjoy books like this if they follow the biblical narrative closely. This one sounds like it does. I like Paul and would love to hear more about his journeys and life. Thanks.
It's really well written. You would enjoy it.

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Post by Britty01 » 11 Oct 2018, 12:57

Thanks for the good review on this piece of historical fiction. I think I would enjoy it for the most part, although I do not see why the author thought that Paul should have been married. As far as I am aware it was not compulsory for a Jew to be married in order to be a Pharisee. Still, it is fiction so I can overlook that aspect of the story. Other than that it does appear to be an interesting book.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 12 Oct 2018, 15:23

It sounds like the author delves deep into the life of Paul. I like how biblical references are seamlessly integrated into Paul's prayers and sermons. Excellent review. It is clear how much you enjoyed this book and why it was so compelling to you.

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Post by teacherjh » 12 Oct 2018, 20:20

kfwilson6 wrote: ↑
12 Oct 2018, 15:23
It sounds like the author delves deep into the life of Paul. I like how biblical references are seamlessly integrated into Paul's prayers and sermons. Excellent review. It is clear how much you enjoyed this book and why it was so compelling to you.
Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the comment.

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Post by teacherjh » 13 Oct 2018, 19:39

Britty01 wrote: ↑
11 Oct 2018, 12:57
Thanks for the good review on this piece of historical fiction. I think I would enjoy it for the most part, although I do not see why the author thought that Paul should have been married. As far as I am aware it was not compulsory for a Jew to be married in order to be a Pharisee. Still, it is fiction so I can overlook that aspect of the story. Other than that it does appear to be an interesting book.
Now I really need to do some research on the marriage thing. Thanks for the comment.

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