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The Wife of John the Baptist Paperback – January 20, 2014
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From Kirkus Reviews
This reimagining of John the Baptist’s life gives the itinerate prophet a Greek wife who desperately wants him to avert his dark destiny. The Bible doesn’t mention a wife for the locust-and-honey-eating forerunner of the Christian savior, but as the titular wife here reasonably explains: “A woman, in those days, was not counted. So even after we were married, people continued to say that John lived alone in the wilderness.” Hessa, who narrates the novel, tells of growing up “in Decapolis, south of the Sea of Galilee and west of the Jordan River, during the time when Judea was a Roman province.” K.’s (The Concubine’s Gift, 2011) vivid writing engagingly depicts the ancient Middle East, describing “Phoenician traders from the sea coast, jewelers from Jerusalem, fine pottery merchants from Greece, lumber dealers from Syria and even magicians from Egypt.” In a touch of magical realism, her merchant father values her ability to tell an object’s history simply by holding it. Though he wants her to marry abroad to solidify his trading connections, her latent adventurousness makes her hesitant to marry at all, until one day in the marketplace she meets a man with “the beautiful, dark eyes of a wild girl.” When she touches John’s hand she knows he fears neither poverty nor death. They marry against her father’s wishes and wander south together along the banks of the Jordan, living in a goatskin tent. Theirs is a Song of Solomon kind of marital bliss, yet Hessa fears the way John is drawn to an increasingly public life, attracting followers she must then find a way to feed as well as the attentions of the land’s Roman occupiers and Zealot rebels. Though the story inevitably leads to John’s martyrdom, it is more so the story of a marriage rather than the tumultuous events that surrounded it. A well-written tale embroidering the life of one of Scripture’s most charismatic figures.
About the Author
K. Ford K. is the author of two novels as well as numerous magazine and newspaper articles for publications in Colorado, Japan and Hawaii. After living and writing overseas for fourteen years, she now lives in Hawaii with her daughter. For further information about K. Ford K., visit her blog at kfordk.com, on facebook at facebook.com/kayfordkay or on twitter, @kfordk
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All I knew of John, is that he lived in the wilderness, ate grasshoppers and honey(I never could reconcile bees in the desert), looked like a wild man, and baptized people. He's most famous for baptizing Jesus and having doves fly up afterwards with a voice calling down from God that he was pleased with Jesus.
While the Bible story sounds like a fairy tale, Ford's book brings John to life in a remarkable way. Ford fleshes out John, giving him hopes, dreams, doubts and a wife, and the back story of how John was born to elderly parents after his father hears from an angel while in the Temple.
I've often wondered if the Bible were just a Cliff Notes version of some really great stories that we'll never hear. I don't know where Ford did all of her research(she told me in an email that she'd one 4 years of research), but now we have a story that brings and important part of history alive. This book should be on the reading list of Christians so that they can grasp a real man behind the glossed over story of the man who baptized Jesus.
In fact, this would make a wonderful movie if any producers are listening.
The story starts off with Hessa, the daughter of a rich Greek trader who lives near the river Jordan. Hessa has the power in her hands to see into the hearts of object or any person she touches. Her father uses his daughter's gift to see the truth behind the objects he brings home from his travels.
Hessa lives a charmed life in her family's large home of servants and plenty, yet gives it all up when she meets John speaking in the marketplace. She marries John and they live and travel through the wilderness, while John gathers people to him through his speaking of the kingdom of heaven which he believes in within everyone.
The author makes the time and place of Roman occupied Jerusalem come alive with her details of everything from food to clothing to the sights and sounds of the marketplace. John feels so real, and totally unlike the wild man talked about in the Bible.
I wonder how the author knew he had a wife, which would make sense since most people do marry no matter what the time and place. Surely he had someone to love and comfort him, and mourn him in the end. Any charismatic man would have had a lot of women followers, just look at today's powerful men.
The Wife of John the Baptist is a book I'd recommend to both my Christian, and secular friends. It's a great story no matter what your beliefs. Now I'm curious as to what else K. Ford might write about.