The Silver Chalice  -     By: Thomas Costain
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The Silver Chalice

Loyola Press / 2006 / Paperback

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The plot of The Silver Chalice centers on the Grail-the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper. Tired of "all the Arthurian tripe about the Holy Grail," Costain imagined his own version of the story. Joseph of Arimathea hires Basil of Antioch, a lowborn artisan, to fashion a beautiful silver casing to hold the plain original cup that Jesus used. The casing is to be decorated with the faces of Jesus and the twelve apostles. To fulfill the commission, Basil travels throughout the ancient Mediterranean world to meet these men and those who knew them intimately.

This plot device plays to Costain's stren gths as a writer. Costain said that he always saw himself as "a reporter . . . in the sense that a reporter tries to be accurate and interesting." He accomplishes both in The Silver Chalice. Many people love the book because it satisfies the curiosity every reader of the New Testament has about the world of early Christianity. What did Peter and Paul look like? What was behind the conflicts in the early church that are hinted at in Scripture? What did it feel like to be a Christian hunted down by murderous civil authorities?

The Silver Chalice contains a poignant spiritual story as well. Basil is not a Christian when he begins his journey to Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, and places in between. He finds that he cannot "see" Jesus in his mind's eye in the same way that he "sees" the apostles. Neither can he give himself to the Christian faith that attracts him.

It turns out that Basil is blinded by a personal choice he made early on in the story, one that negatively skews his point of view. He eventually sees the destructive consequences of his choice, and the story brings him to a point where he can make another choice-a choice to be generous and free. Then Basil can "see"-spiritually and artistically.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 752
Vendor: Loyola Press
Publication Date: 2006
Dimensions: 7 X 5 (inches)
ISBN: 0829423508
ISBN-13: 9780829423501
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

"An outstanding historical novel."—New York Times

"This novel makes real . . . the whole world of the New Testament."—Chicago Tribune

"His theme is presented with an assurance and sweetness that is refreshing
in a great novel."—Christian Science Monitor

The colorful, passionate world of early Christianity comes to vivid life in this story of Basil of Antioch. Basil, a sensitive artisan, is purchased from slavery and commissioned to create a decorative casing for the Chalice that Jesus used at the Last Supper. Basil travels to Jerusalem, Greece, and Rome, meets the apostles, braves the perils of persecution, and finally makes a fateful choice that allows him to "see" Jesus. The dramatic plot, compelling characters, and spiritual depth of The Silver Chalice made it one of the most popular historical novels of the twentieth century.

Author Bio

Thomas B. Costain (1885–1965) turned to novel-writing in middle age after a distinguished career as a magazine and book editor in New York. His historical novels, which were marked by meticulous research and rousing action, were best sellers in the mid-twentieth century. His most popular works were The Black Rose (1945) and The Silver Chalice (1952).

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