BOOK REVIEW: The fledgling church is being scattered by persecution, spearheaded by a fanatical young Pharisee who does not realize he is helping to spread the truth "unto the ends of the earth". Young Julia has everything money can buy, yet she and her Hebrew mother are less than second-class citizens. When Julia discovers the secret her Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Her future is clouded with uncertainty.
Jacob, Abigail's brother, is attempting to find his own place among the believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard? Hired to protect a wealthy merchant's caravans on the secretive "Frankincense Trail", Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing messages between communities of believers dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia is also a courier. Can they put their initial mistrust aside to accomplish their mission? An earthshaking encounter on the way to Damascus has repercussions far beyond the lives of Julia and Jacob.
MY REVIEW: This is the third and last book of Janet Oke's and Davis Bunn's Bible Fiction series. THE DAMASCUS WAY is based on the lives of Jacob (Abigail's brother from previous books) and Julia (new character, daughter of a prominent merchant). Jacob has grown up since the earlier books, especially as the story progresses. Less stubborn and more reliable, he is granted a position as guard on Jamal's caravan. When he first meets Julia, he mistakes her identity, and asks her to draw water for his camels. This of course does not sit well with her.
The story of Abigail is also picked up. In the last book, Stephen dies, and Abigail has a little girl. In this book, her daughter Dorcas is four years old. Abigail has been staying in Jerusalem, but her friends finally persuade her to leave. She agrees for Dorcas' sake--Jerusalem is no longer safe for a believer. The Roman soldier, Linux, is part of the caravan traveling to Nain. Dorcas becomes quite attached to him, and vice versa. Abigail struggles with her feelings; she still loves Stephen and doesn't want to be disloyal to his memory.
There is history in this book, such as the persecution by Saul, the Pharisee, and a bit about his conversion on the road to Damascus. But as the third book, there is more fiction and less Bible. The prominent characters are the invented ones, and while the familiar ones are still in the story, they are in the background. Still, I enjoyed the book, and I'm a little sad that the series is over.