A Star out of Jacob
Glorious Twilight: ‘A Star out of Jacob’ Prefigures the End Times
New novel spans thousands of years to reveal significance of the Magi’s journey
ARLINGTON, Va. – In an unconventional tale, sparkling with humor, ‘A Star out of Jacob’ by Martha Carver Harris delivers a deeper examination of the intellectual context surrounding the era of Christ’s birth, and its impact on a fat, forlorn, middle-aged woman wrapped up in the secular concerns of today.
Faye is an American Sunday school teacher of Persian extraction, linked by ancestry to the ancient Magi—an elite priestly class from the Parthian Empire (ancient Persia) who followed a Star to Bethlehem. Faye has vivid, inexplicable dreams related to the Magi’s journey and a young girl named Fatemah. But she dismisses the dreams while throwing herself into shrill, modern-day causes like climate change and animal rights. Along the way, Faye meets Sebastian, an irresistible Jew with an End-of-World theory to explore. Together they attend lectures on microbiology, cosmology, ancient astrology, and the fine-tuning of the universe. A romance develops.
But a fatal illness interrupts Faye’s mortal life and leads to an entirely new journey taking her back in time to First Century Palestine. There she learns about the intellectual ferment surrounding the era of Christ’s birth, and the belief that stars control human destiny. She discovers the Magi’s Zoroastrian beginnings, their exposure to Jewish Messianic prophecy and Greek philosophy, and their intense study of the stars. She meets Fatemah, whose dreams confirm the meaning of the Star over Bethlehem. She listens to the story of the Christ Child, the escape from Herod, and Fatemah’s return to Judaea 30 years later. She contemplates God’s increasingly urgent battle against evil, as modern man gets further away from the Truth. She concludes that movements of the cosmos may parallel great events on earth and anticipates a terrifyingly imminent revelation.
Harris’s knifelike character portrayals are both comical and delicately wrought, while her interweaving of ancient historical sources such as Josephus, Hipparchus, and the Dead Sea Scrolls lend weight and depth to a fascinating conclusion.
A Star out of Jacob
“The king slept peacefully at his palace at Machaerus. His ulcerated body had soaked and soaked at the warm springs in Callirrhoe, east of the Salt Sea. He was in the same four temper after the baths. Traveling was torture. The doctors had drugged him with soporifics upon return and no one dared wake him. It was almost daybreak.
Herod had started his career as a vigorous young man, striking in appearance, with dark black hair and sun-bronzed skin He was adept in courtly circles, good at war, and utterly ambitious. Like his father before him, he’d become a favorite of Caesar. He’d gained control over Judaea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumaea, and vast areas of Greek-populated land east of the Jordan River. But today he was 70 years old, diseased and dying.”
Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2021
Ms. Harris has written a story that marvelously combines the biblical version of Christ's birth with the historical and astronomical events that would have made venerable scholars from Persia choose to follow a strange star to Bethlehem. Along the way, she presents persuasive reasons why those who pillory the notion of intelligent design need to have their assumptions challenged, but conveys all of this information in the context of a charming love story which keeps the ideas expressed from reading like a textbook. She brings historical characters like King Herod to life, and creates a cast of fictional ones that are engaging and relatable. This is a story about faith and hope, and why science need not be divorced from either.
Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2021
This well-researched novel probes deeply into the intellectual world of the first century classical world and also into aspects of contemporary thinking on a number of important scientific and religious issues. The author has crafted a complex narrative with engaging characters. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of adequate source notes and a solid bibliography for those who wish to learn more about the subjects addressed. Highly recommended
Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2021
It's a fascinating read. The story is well written backed up by good research. I find the character Faye, a modern girl living in Arlington, and her discovery of life's meaning and philosophy engaging. Her discovery of her relation to enigmatic characters depicted during Christ's birth through his crucifixion is very compelling. The ending is quite a surprise, but everything comes together. I highly recommend this book.