Tomes for Tots
Historical fiction with Christianity as its theme, The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare is a gem of a book. The 1962 Newberry Award winner deals with conflicting loyalties, making sacrifices, overcoming prejudices and anger, and finally submitting those feelings to Christ.
Daniel is a young Jewish boy whose parents have been killed by the Roman oppressors. Fleeing an abusive situation as the apprentice of a cruel blacksmith, he is taken into the band of Rosh, a zealot and an outlaw who says that he is taking from the rich in order to build up an army to fight the Romans. This aim appeals to Daniel and his consuming revenge for his parents' deaths.
Daniel has left in his village his elderly grandmother and his sister Leah, who was traumatized by her parents' deaths and never leaves the house. When their grandmother dies, Daniel must make a tough decision of whether to abandon his rebel life or to abandon his helpless sister.
Adding to the intrigue of this book is Daniel's unlikely relationship with Joel and his sister Malthace. Joel, expected to become a famous scribe or rabbi, is also taken in by the romantic notion of Rosh and his vengeance on their oppressors. The three of them form a band whose symbol is the bronze bow, taken from Psalm 18:34: He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. More people are added to the band as the action intensifies throughout the book.
Interwoven throughout the incidents in Daniel's life are his encounters with Jesus, some taken from scripture and some fictionalized. This book does an excellent job of allowing one to see and feel what Galilee must have been like when Jesus walked there, and also shows how his teachings were revolutionary in a way different from what most Jews would have anticipated.
I would recommend this book for tweens or teenagers (there is violence); I myself enjoyed it and never found myself thinking that I was reading a book written for children. The Bronze Bow would make an excellent read-aloud and should spark some great discussion on what Jesus means to us.
6 years ago