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Cover for 'Of Such Is The Kingdom, A Novel of Biblical Times'

Step back into New Testament times--to Ancient Jerusalem at the time of Christ and of the historical Roman Empire, and ask: What could a cynical, non-conformist dry-goods salesman, a disgruntled blacksmith, and a musing mendicant all have in common? The answer: Down deep, they all seek something better. But will they find true fulfillment they are seeking? The non-conformist, Manaheem, Herod's foster brother, is hired by Herod to foment an insurrection against Pontius Pilate, whom he distrusts. Manaheem recruits the blacksmith, Barabbas, to be the insurrection leader, to the dismay of Barabbas' Godly but fearful wife (when he finally tells her). The mendicant, an unfortunate but pensive young man named Timotheus, joins with an older beggar completely unsympathetic to his musings. Pontius Pilate sees himself as a weak ruler, but his wife pushes him to be stronger and to even take over Herod's territory. Manaheem re-unites with his former wife, Claressa. In need of more money, he tries to blackmail Herod over his illicit affair With Herodius, his brother’s wife, but, Herod decides to marry Herodius and send his present wife back to her father. John the Baptist preaches to Herod and looses his head. Herod's palace is attacked, and suspecting Pilate, he tells Manaheem go ahead with the mission. Barabbas is successful in forming a group of insurrectionists and they rehearse for the big day. But will the insurrection succeed? What is next, and how will Barabbas and Manaheem get the money the need? More importantly, will all find the fulfillment they seek? Listen to find out.
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WRITING STYLE: The writing style is a unique eclectic style, combining poetry, straight dialogue and 1st person stream-of-consciousness narrative with the 3rd person narration.
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Praise for "Of Such Is The Kingdom":
"James M. Becher has artfully taken the events surrounding Jesus' time...and told what could have been from each characters perspective... Mr. Becher takes you through a wide range of emotions from beginning to end.... This is a great novel that I'm sure you will enjoy!"
------Rudelle Thomas in the January issue of Divine Eloquence.

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  • A mysterious stranger arrives in Jerusalem seeking a man who "can be inspired and trained to lead a small insurrection." Failing to interest both a rich shopkeeper and an elderly beggar, he decides to try a brawny blacksmith named Barabbas. Barabbas has already been thinking about "the evils of the Romans and their high taxation." Thus, the stranger had a ready audience with the blacksmith, who thinks all the way home about the possibility of successful insurrection and whether or not to tell his wife whom he knows will be against it. As he arrives home, his three children rush out to meet him and quarrel over who will help wash his feet. The feet are washed and the supper eaten and Barabbas puts off telling his wife about the stranger's strange visit. We follow the stranger to an inn or caravansary (Ch.2) where he will sleep. There he meets some Herodians (Jews who favor Herod) and, discusses their compromising stance and the surprising fact that Herod is not a Jew. The next morning he is gone before they awaken and they wonder (as no doubt you the listener do) who this mysterious stranger is. The answer will be revealed in Chapter 3 (episode 2 of this podcast).

  • (Ch.3 of the e-book), we find out who the mysterious stranger is (in case you haven't figured it out) and also who he is working for and why he is trying to recruit an insurrection leader and to go against whom. We also gain insight into his thinking as he criticizes customs. We watch as he enters the foreboding looking palace and confronts the ruler about the evils of conformity after receiving his pay. We also learn what started him on his stance of non-conformity. For this, there is a flashback, as he relates, over a pitcher of wine, an intriguing but gruesome event from his childhood. The chapter ends with a hint of a possible scandal to come.

  • We meet Potius Pilate and his wife Portia (Ch.4). Pilate sees himself as a week ruler, but yet, explores the virtue of democratic rule. His wife encourages him to be more strict and to take over Herod's territory. He tells her Herod is his good friend, but when Herod and his wife come to call and she insults Herod, Pilate finally joins her. When Herod returns (Ch. 5) Manaheem is still there reading scrolls. He comments on the penalty of Adultery, telling Herod he noticed his look at Herodius earlier. He asks Herod how it went at Pilate's and if Pilate's wife had anything to with it. This leads to another flashback as He tells Herod about his ex-wife, Claressa, also a non-conformist. We also meet (Ch.6) the last of the main characters, an unfortunate, but pensive young man named Timotheus who becomes a beggar and meets an older beggar name Lucas who offers to share his begging spot.

  • Pilate and Portia (Ch.7) decide to send complaint letters to Caesar about Herod. A messenger from Herod tells Pilate to raise the temple tax. He replies telling Herod to mind his own business. Portia compliments Pilate, but wonders if more taxation might not be good. Manaheem recruits Barabbas (Ch.8) as insurrection leader. Barabbas tries to convey to his wife the serious political situation. Manaheem (Ch.9) meets his ex-wife, Claressa, and drives her home. They express their love and decide to try again despite financial concerns. Meanwhile (Ch. 10) Barabbas has managed to form a small group of insurgents. He plans the strategy for the attack on his way home, but is interrupted by a cry for alms from the two beggars. He says he's as poor as they, and that if all goes well, one day there may be no more poor people. Timotheus(Ch. 11) wonders what his last remark means. Lucas dismisses it, but later recalls the previous visit from Manaheem (Ch. 1) and wonders if the two incidents are related. Their food supply running low, they start out next morning in search of a new begging spot. Timotheus spys a crowd listening to someone speak and they go to work the crowd. The speaker is John the Baptist and Timotheus is touched by his call for repentance, but Lucas says it shouldn’t concern them.

  • we find Manaheem thinking. (a first person monologue of his thoughts on love and conformity as they relate to his situation with Claressa, and his decision to solve his need for more money by blackmailing Herod) while Barabbas and his men make concrete plans for the attack and Barabbas still debates whether to tell his wife. We then get a glimpse of Benjamin, the cloth shop owner and his home-life. Barabbas finally does tell his wife. We follow the two beggars (Ch.14) as they search for another good begging spot and end up where John is baptizing. We see Manaheem blackmail Herod. We also glimpse (Ch.16 another 1st person account) the life and ministry of John the Baptist and his musings as he wonders what is left for him since Jesus has come and his following has fallen off. Seeking a big sin to preach against, he decides to go to Tiberius to see what he can find there.

  • Barabbas and his men (Ch.17) go over their attack plans and dream of their success. Meanwhile, Benjamin is also making plans--plans to expand his shop. Aertes is outraged (Ch.18) at Herod's sending Samantha back and plans to attack Herod. Meanwhile, John arrives in Tiberius and is told of Herod's adultery and bigamy. Preaching on the palace lawn, he confronts the king, who has him thrown into the dungeon, where he visits him (Ch.19) and taunts him asking why his God and Messiah hasn't rescued him. John thinks and begins to doubt whether Jesus is the Christ and so asks Herod to send his disciples to Jesus to ask him. Ch. 20 finds the two beggars again looking for a better spot and finding one where Jesus is speaking and healing. Timotheus seeing John's disciples pushing their way to the front, edges forward and hears their question and the answer as well as the strange words Jesus says about John. He wonders about the speaker's words and if he could be the messiah, but is again rebuked by Lucas.

  • Ch. 21 is titled "The Unforgettable Party," referring to Herod's birthday party at which Herodius' daughter, Salome, dances and, in answer to Herod's promise, asks for the head of John the baptist on a platter. Shortly after the head is brought in, the palace is attacked by Aertes' army. Herod, suspecting Pilate might have something to do with the attack, (Ch.22) sends a page for Manaheem, who is with Claressa. The page mentions the beheading. Thus Manaheem rebukes Herod strongly, but still decides to further the insurrection plan. Barabbas and his men are ready and restless (Ch23) and Barabbas decides to go ahead but wonders if he should wait for the mysterious stranger. Just when he was deciding to go ahead, the stranger appears and tells him to do so. The rest of the chapter describes the insurrection and its outcome.

  • we find Barabbas and his men hiding out in cave in the forest and Deborah and the children sick with worry about him. (Pt.2, Ch.1), Claressa asking Manaheem about the mission, Benjamin, the cloth shop owner busy expanding (Ch3), and the beggars again looking for a spot (Ch.4) and viewing another miracle. Meanwhile Pilate's wife suggests that Herod might have had something to do with the insurrection and Manaheem blackmails Herod over his part in it. Meanwhile, (Ch.5) Barabbas suggests robbery as a way to get money, but none of his men agree and all decide to go home. Barabbas feels it's not safe from him to come home yet so sends one of his men to tell Deborah that he's alright. Meanwhile (Ch.6) Manaheem shows Claressa the money and she prys out of him where he got it. She doesn't like the idea and...

  • Barabbas solicits the aid of the two beggars in robbing Benjamin (Ch7). Lucas jumps at the chance but Timotheus is hesitant. Portia (Ch. 8) tells Pilate she forgot to send the letters. The rest of Ch.8 tracks the sleep, or lack of it, of Pilate and Portia, Benjamin, Barabbas and Timotheus. Chapter 9 is the robbery. Timotheus almost turns back. The robbery goes bad. Benjamin's family (Ch.10) learn the news and some neighbor children suggest an answer. Barabbas is sentenced (Ch.11) and the other two awaiting trail. Ch.12 has the same title as the novel, as Deborah takes the children to see Jesus.

  • Pilate starts to send the letters when they bring Jesus. He sends Jesus to Herod who, in the presence of Manheem, taunts him, asking for a miracle, then sends him back to Pilate and they both go to the praetorium.(Ch.13-14) Barabbas (Ch.15) sees them from his cell window and asks Manaheem for help. Herod suggest that Pilate offer to release Jesus and they become friends again (Ch.16). Both Timotheus and Manaheem view the trial of Jesus (Ch.17), Timotheus from a hole in his cell wall and Manaheem from the praetorium. The beggars are tried and...

  • The search for truth, meaning and fulfillment goes on (for all three characters) (Ch.18-20) and culminates against the background of crucifixion. Ch. 21 sees Manaheem trying to get back once more with Claressa.

  • Well, episode 11 ends Part II and thus ends the original first edition of "Of Such Is The Kingdom, A Novel of Biblical Times." But, as you may well be aware, some questions still remain to be answered. Did Claressa embrace Manaheem's new-found faith? What happened to the bereaved family of Benjamin? Did Joseph, the oldest son get to go to Rabbi school? Did Barabbas continue to follow the master and did his wife and children join him? And was Pontius Pilate able to forget about his decision to crucify Jesus and did he become the strong ruler his wife wanted him to be? These and other questions are answered in the newly written Part III of the newly revised and expanded "Of Such Is The Kingdom, A Novel of Biblical Times," and here the author alludes to some of the answers as he previews Part III and gives information as to where it can be obtained as an e-book by itself or as part of the revised edition either in print or e-book. The author does not intend to offer it here or to expand this audio version.

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