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Theophilos Hardcover – March 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586173685
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586173685
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,123,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An arresting work. Totally credible both historically and psychologically. There's not a single false note in this music. Do you want to get into a time machine and actually live in the first century world? Then read this book!" ---Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy Boston College

"O'Brien again takes up the theme of the truth of revelation before an unbelieving generation. This novel searches the soul of our time through the eyes of St. Luke and Theophilos and those they encountered, including the Lord Himself. O'Brien brings to life the wonder that filled the soul of Luke." ---James V. Schall, SJ, Professor of Political Philosophy, Georgetown University

"All of Michael O'Brien's novels are in a sense 'historical,' even those often regarded as 'prophetic.' Theophilos, set long ago in the first century and meticulously researched, is finely textured, lush and convincing in its depiction of the rich embroglio of Mediterranean culture in the time of the apostles. The epistolary prose is hauntingly provocative, often lyrical, compelling in its characterization of the events reported in Luke and Acts as they might be considered from a learned gentile's point of view. This is a beautiful book." ---David Lyle Jeffrey, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University

Customer Reviews

Several Greek myths are explored as well as the art of ancient medicine.
Teófilo de Jesús
His historical research is impressive, even entwining fictional characters in with real events.
Stephen Z
Theophilos could be any one of us, facing our doubts, searching for the truth.
Patrice Fagnant-macarthur

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Corban Storm VINE VOICE on April 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
'Theophilos' by Michael O'Brien is a fictional depiction of the lives of St. Luke (author of the Gospel bearing his name as well as the Acts of the Apostles) and the individual to whom he addressed these writings, Theophilos. O'Brien establishes Theophilos as a dear uncle who had the responsibility of raising the young "Loukas" from the age of twelve. The book is written primarily in first person from the perspective of Theophilos--a physician steeped in the belief system of the Greek Gods though who still is more effectively an agnostic--who has now become quite disturbed by his nephew's sudden belief in the cult of "the Christos"---The Way of Jesus Christ. The book is a "present" narrative (mostly in 65 A.D.) with a collection of letters, journal entries, and examinations (interviews) woven into it, along with many reminiscences of the childhood years of not only St. Luke, but Jesus of Nazareth.

I think the first question that most O'Brien fans would ask is, "How does Theophilos measure up to the `Children of the Last Days' series?" To this, I would say that it is more a change of venue than a change of pace. The familiar elements of the author's craft: well-developed multi-dimensional characters, poetic dialogue (both interior and spoken), and thought-provoking scenarios--are not only intact, but I would even suggest further honed. The second question is, "Is 'Theophilos' more the high-action, overtly Catholic/Theological thriller (the likes of 'Fr. Elijah' or 'Plague Journal')... or is it more the evenly-paced, thoughtful novel--rich in Catholic philosophy though more subtle in its presentation (the likes of 'A Cry of Stone')?
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Triptbishop on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first glance, Theophilos appears to be a work of historical fiction--yet, in a much more profound sense, it is an examination of conscience for the present age: an examen of original sin and salvo of original grace.

The protagonist is Theophilos, the correspondent whom Luke mentions at the beginning of Luke's Gospel and Acts. The Greek-born son of a man freed from slavery, Theophilos seems free of both the slavery his father endured and the delusions imposed by the world and the excesses of passion.

A practicing physician on the Isle of Crete, Theophilos is every bit the modern rationalist--but with the soul of a virtuous pagan. In fact, Theophilos is an archetype of the best that the world and human effort, intellect, and technos have to offer. A fitting Virgil to lead us through the ancient world in the decades immediately following the Death and Resurrection of Iesous the Christos, he guides us pilgrim readers through the follies and glories of humankind in a journey that stretches beyond a particular age. The suspense of the plot is evoked in our--and Theophilos'--haunting doubt as to whether ours is the path to Inferno or Purgatorio.

Rescuing Loukas (Luke) from a plague that has wasted Loukas' mother (Theophilos' sister), father, and city (Thessalonika), Theophilos takes the boy to his home on Crete, raising the child as his own and training him in medicine, a labor and science that Theophilos again and again heroically and vainly wields against the forces of chaos.

For, outside Theophilos' well-stocked library and even the walls of his home town lurks man's capacity for evil. Repeatedly, the good physician struggles to snatch a few more years of life for one of his patients, only to witness humanity's thirst for death.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By James E Geoffrey II on May 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael O'Brien is an exceptionally talented author whose works bring a subtle and complex depth to profound religious questions, specifically in a Catholic context. In Theophilos, O'Brien turns his attention to the question of modernity set against faith. However, unlike in many of his other works, where O'Brien's touch is sure and his intellectual direction is clear, this time he loses his way and leaves the reader with a deep but ultimately unsatisfying exploration of one of the central questions facing men of faith in a world of rationalism.

To start, kudos to O'Brien in evoking brilliantly the feel of the period about which he is writing. The reader gets a real sense that he is reading documents that were written in the time of the first century AD. From his use of original Greek, Latin and Hebrew place names to references to the historical events of the period to his colorful evocations of life in the Middle East and around Jerusalem, O'Brien hits it out of the ballpark. Even more fascinating is his description of the lives of people in different classes and the interaction of cultures in occupied societies. He neatly contrasts the life of the poor and the rich, the Greek and the Hebrew and - to a lesser degree - the Roman and leaves you with an acute sense of the motivations and viewpoints of an era long gone.

O'Brien tends to lose this a little bit toward the end when the book takes a decidedly mystical turn - more about which anon - and in his portrayal of the early Christians. (It seems like they are always praying and singing, but surely there one has to imagine that even in the ancient Holy Land they must have taken a break every now and then to go out for burgers or something and certainly they talked about things other than religion.
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