The Lost Letters of Pergamum

Written by Bruce W. Longenecker
Review by Nan Curnutt

This book is comprised of letters making up a fictional correspondence between Antipas, a character mentioned once as a martyr in the New Testament, and the writer of the Gospel of Luke. Antipas, a nobleman of the Roman Empire, is interested in purely intellectual pursuits and in making his name great. He worships the Roman gods along with his fellow noblemen. As Luke shares his story of Jesus, Antipas compares the supremacy of the Roman way of life to the teachings of this “disturbing man” Jesus. His interest is purely academic at first, but after reading the accounts of Jesus written by Luke and experiencing the love and fellowship among Jesus’ followers, Antipas finds himself questioning his premises of life.

This well-researched and thought-provoking novel is a work of art; it is also a work of scholarship. Antipas’ letters expressing what is important to him as a nobleman enable the reader to understand the Roman point of view and dramatically illustrate why Christianity was so misunderstood by the Roman Empire. Dr. Longenecker’s knowledge of both the Biblical and the Roman worlds is evident throughout the story. Descriptions of gladiatorial events are realistic and moving. The author includes a preface that carefully explains what is fact and what is fiction, and appendices to supplement the text. Highly recommended.