SON OF JUDAH by Dan Levin


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An Alexandrian Jew, Yehudah Ben-Yehudah, goes in search of himself and his God, his ""personal Adonai"". The search would fill a wide screen with a cast of thousands. He is conscripted into the Roman legion, but deserts to join some Judean fanatics; becomes a cestus-fighter in Antioch; later a physician in Pergamon; is again taken by Romans to be a slave on the canal being built at Ostia; escapes and works among the poor of Rome as a physician; and finally is asked (by his former legion commander) to help formulate a new state religion for the Empire. After the Great Fire, he almost meets death on a fiery cross in Nero's gardens, but his erstwhile sparring partner rescues him, reunites him with his beloved, and then sacrifices himself to the pursuing legionaries as the couple flee via the Cloaca Maxima. Three women are involved--Miriamne, amoral and untamed, on her way up in the ranks of courtesans; the gentle, devoted Drosis, who bears Yehudah two children; and Corinna, a warm, realistic woman on her way down. One may forgive certain infelicities of style--the occasional use of the deus ex machina, a few words with distinctly modern flavor and at least one regrettable, ""Hector, Shmector""--because the story moves forward rapidly and holds the reader's interest to the last page.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1961
Publisher: Appleton-Century-Crofts