Cross Purposes: Manaen the Palace Peasant
by Lucille L. Turfrey

"Jesus came to us, he sat with us! The conversation flowed quite flawlessly! At times, Jesus would question us. At times, our questions were for him!"

This heartfelt historical novel documents the life of Manaen, a "palace peasant," who, according to Acts 13:1, grew up with Herod. The reader receives Manaen's story firsthand. It begins outside Bethlehem, and it continues through Manaen's adulthood. As readers journey into adulthood with Manaen, they watch him develop a friendship with Jesus. They see him marry Maryam and watch as he witnesses Jesus' miracles. The narrative also shows Christ's crucifixion through Manaen's eyes, and by the book's conclusion, one feels the impact left on a single person from the masses that Jesus touched. As the protagonist puts it, "Yes! The Nazarene had made a difference in our lives." Readers also come to understand that life for Christ's followers, as they chose "The Cross-bound Way," took a dramatic turn after his death and resurrection: "We were now to travel a new road. A new adventure awaited us, out there in the future."

Though little is actually known about the real Manaen's life, this well-researched work makes a small piece of biblical history accessible for readers. The book's appeal lies in its first-person narrative, which grips one from the very beginning. The novel's incorporation of famous and infamous biblical figures such as Nicodemus, Herod, and, of course, Jesus make it a fascinating read. Readers looking for faith-based works that reaffirm their journey in the faith and Christ will appreciate Manaen's narratives, particularly toward the end, when the story depicts his commitment to carrying on Christ's work. Exciting and adventurous, reflective and inspiring, this book is appropriate for readers of all ages.

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