The Good News Comes to Athens is a work of historical fiction based loosely (very, very loosely) on Paul of Tarsus’s mission to Athens in the book of Acts (17:16-34). Here’s an excerpt from the 1599 Geneva Bible (cause it sounds better in 1599, that’s why)
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city subject to idolatry.
Therefore he disputeth in the Synagogue with the Jews, and with them that were religious, and in the market daily with whomsoever he met.
Paul argues with Epicureans and Stoics, and eventually they take him to the Areopagus, which is a hill in Athens that nobody knows about or everyone forgets to visit because the Acropolis is right next door and way cooler. He has to give a speech to the Athenians, partly because it’s illegal in Athens to preach foreign gods at the time, so Paul’s got to explain why he shouldn’t get in trouble for talking about this dude named Jesus, and also partly because folks are super confused and curious about all the crazy claims Paul is making and want to hear more about them.
So The Good News Comes to Athens is about this speech that Paul gives on the Areopagus, and all the circumstances leading up to that speech, and the aftermath of that speech. It’s about an upstart cult called Christianity crashing headfirst into Mainland Greece. It’s about a baby-faced Roman Empire and a much older Athens whose empire has long since faded. It’s about a Roman boy who’s sent to Athens to learn from Greek statesmen and philosophers who don’t much care for Rome. It’s about falling in love with the wrong Athenian girl.
It’s equal parts coming-of-age, satire, political thriller, mystery, Aristophanic farce, and Euripidean tragedy.
If you loved I, Claudius, Clan of the Cave Bear, or Wolf Hall, I think you’ll love the sprawling, richly detailed world of The Good News Comes to Athens. Expertly researched and lyrically narrated, The Good News Comes to Athens brings the Classical World to life with unforgettable characters, arabesque plots, and old-fashioned Greek drama that even the plebs can clap for!
The Greco-Roman World
Therefore, dear Quintus, come aboard with us, even at the helm! There is one boat now for all good citizens, which in truth we take pains to hold on its course.
The year is 50 AD.
Julius Cæsar and Jesus Christ are both dead. Glass windows are all the rage. Rome is done with her civil wars and finally enjoying some peace and quiet in the Pax Romana, but not everything is as pleasant as it seems. In the last 200 years, Greece has had some mid-life crises. First the Achæan War, then the Mithridatic Wars. Every time Rome marched in she burned down another city. Corinth? Gone. Athens? Razed by the wicked Lucius Sulla. The old Greek empires have been thoroughly domesticated, and though everyone speaks the Greek tongue, they obey the Roman law. Sure there’s peace, but is there justice?
The Good News Comes to Athens is also a story about a once great city-state standing up to the new superpower in town. Athens used to be the one demanding tribute from smaller colonies, but now Rome’s the one who knocks.