The Heretic is an exciting, fast paced, multi-generational story of adventure and love.
Readers describe The Heretic as an "electrifying work" which they cannot put down. They cry with the characters' pain, they see even the most brutal of scenes as "portrayed with elegant sensitivity," and they anxiously await the sequel.
And The Heretic is much more ...
It is a serious, extensively researched work of historical fiction, dealing with the central issues of Christian anti-Judaism. It has been well received by Catholic and Jewish leaders, and by scholars of the period.
In 1391, and again in 1412, crusading Dominican priests swept through Seville. Their message to Jews was clear: accept baptism, or die!
Gabriel Catalan's father yielded to this cruel ultimatum when he was just a youth of 18, giving up his Jewish religion and living out his life as a Christian. But it did not save him.
In The Heretic's startling opening scene (see excerpt below), long-simmering animosity toward Seville's converted Jews explodes into violence, and a rioting mob stabs, clubs and stomps Gabriel's father to his death. Too late to save his father's life, Gabriel Catalan honors his father's memory by silently embracing the religion his father had been forced to renounce. He becomes one of Spain's secret Jews, involving his entire family in a clandestine life of extreme danger.
Early in the story, Gabriel, a goldsmith by trade, watches the German printer Johann Gutenberg demonstrate his remarkable new printing method. Against the opposition of his wife Pilar, he agrees to take on a perilous new mission. He and his son Tomas will print copies of rare Hebrew manuscripts and holy books, in hopes of preserving the precious texts before they are destroyed and lost forever in the fires of fanatical monks.
Tomas Catalan, Gabriel's daring son, enthusiastically embraces Judaism and printing, remarkably becomes a friend of both princess Isabel and the Moorish prince Hasan, and falls in love with the beautiful Jewess Esther Ardit. The young couple struggles to build their forbidden love amidst impossibly frenzied and restrictive conditions.
Gabriel rises in power and wealth, becomes a confidant of the strange King Enrique and then helps Enrique's half-sister Isabel marry Fernando and claim the crown of a united Spain. His position, however, is never secure, and he is hunted and haunted by Friar Ricardo Perez, a Dominican monk sent to Seville to unearth secret Jews, so that they can be burned alive at the stake. Gabriel Catalan is his primary target.
The Heretic contains intriguing portraits of real historical figures -- the printer Gutenberg, the Moorish Prince Hasan, Enrique, Isabel and Fernando, and the cruel monk Tomas Torquemada. Weinstein's research is impressive - he brings to life the chaos and promise of 15th century Spain. His writing is described as cinematic in its portrayal of action sequences and the intriguing background of Jewish-Christian-Moorish Andalusia.
In some of its most compelling moments, The Heretic brings readers face-to-face with the horrible truth about how the teachings of the Catholic Church were used to justify the torture and murder of Jews. Weinstein traces these teachings from their origins in scripture and holy writings, through the laws of the Roman empire and Visigoth Spain, to the unimaginable blood libels of medieval Europe. He leaves readers faced with the inevitable conclusion that these teachings, repeated purposely and relentlessly until very recent times, created the climate within which the Nazis could pursue their agenda of extermination.
Jewish leaders say that The Heretic describes a chapter in Jewish history that every knowledgeable Jew should understand. Catholic leaders say that The Heretic presents a part of the Church's history that we would rather not face, but which we must confront honestly if we are to be liberated by the truth and reminded by it to challenge hatred and intolerance in our present time.
Mr. Weinstein has spoken frequently about The Heretic and the issues of Christian anti-Judaism which it raises, and he is interested in scheduling additional appearances. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.