Ancient Near East Book List

Read about the Cradle of Civilization! Here is historical fiction that reveals the world of ancient Mesopotamia, Anatolia (modern day Turkey), Israel, and the beginnings of Christianity to readers of all ages!

Ancient Israel & the Beginning of Christianity

Though born in Jerusalem, 13-year-old Bani has been raised in Susa, the city of the Persian king Artaxerxes. But now his uncle Nehemiah wants to return to ruined and troubled Jerusalem---and Bani is given a part to play that will change his life forever! A fictionalized retelling of a turning point in history. Ages 10 and up. 182 pages, softcover from Bethlehem Books.

Ten-year-old Talia lives within the walls of the city. The walls are strong, and no army has ever broken through before. But there is an army coming that is rumored to have a powerful God. As the city lies on the brink of battle, Talia's aunt meets two foreigners with news that could change the lives of Talia and her family forever. Talia must decide what she believes and have faith stronger than the walls of her city to survive what is coming. Ages 9-12. 88 pages, softcover.

After witnessing his father's crucifixion by Roman soldiers, Daniel bar Jamin is fired by a single passion: to avenge his father's death by driving the Roman legions form the land of Israel. Consumed by hatred, Daniel joins the brutal raids of an outlaw band living in the hills outside his village. Though his grandmother's death slows his plans by forcing him to move home to care for his sister, he continues his dangerous life by leading a group of boy guerrillas in spying and plotting, impatiently waiting to take revenge.

In nearby Capernaum, a rabbi is teaching a different lesson. Time and again Daniel is drawn to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, only to turn away, disappointed and confused by Jesus' lack of action in opposing the Romans. Devoid of tenderness and forgiveness, headstrong Daniel is also heedless of the loyalty of his friend Joel; the love of Joel's sister, Malthace; and the needs of his own disturbed sister, Leah, dragging them down his destructive path toward disaster.

Elisabeth George Speare won the 1962 Newbery Medal for this magnificent novel of Daniel's tormented journey from a blind, confining hatred to his acceptance and understanding of love. Booklist called it "a dramatic, deeply felt narrative whose characters and message will be long remembered." Recommended for ages 9 and up. The 1962 Newbery Medal winner.

Adara has always longed to do the things that well-brought-up girls of her time are not supposed to do. She wants to learn to read and write--like men. And she wants the freedom to travel--like men--outside the boundaries of her sheltered life. One day she awakens to a blast of trumpets as the Israelites and Arameans battle just outside the safety of her village walls. Curious, Adara sneaks out to see the battle. Little does she know that this will be her last day of freedom for a very long time. Sold into slavery, Adara becomes a servant to General Namaan and his family and begins a remarkable journey of self-discovery, healing, and redemption--a journey that, in the end, faces her with the hardest decision of her life. For ages 9 and up.

Onesimus is a slave and longs for freedom and for the love of Eirene, a wealthy merchant's daughter. Onesimus' master is Philemon, a follower of Christ, but Onesimus wants nothing to do with religion. Take a journey back to biblical times and learn, along with Onesimus, that Christ is the only way to freedom.

Journey back to Palestine, when the Roman empire ruled over the historical territory of the Jews. Mala makes her living by sewing for the rich and often haughty ladies of the Roman Empire, dreaming of a better existence. But a when a mysterious stranger heals a physically twisted beggar in her town, there might be more to think of than just this world...154 pages, softcover.

    Geraldine McCaughrean's fresh retellings of familiar Bible events and Bee Willey's whimsical and striking illustrations create a rich and contemporary tale, perfect for reading during Advent or anytime. As Mr. Butterfield carves a Jesse Tree in an old dusty church, a curious young boy distracts him, asking about the various symbols on the tree. Against his better judgment, the old man finds himself retelling the familiar Biblical tales that trace the lineage of Christ, from the Garden of Eden to Jesus' birth. Under the carpenter's skilled hands, the Jesse tree grows--and an unlikely friendship begins to take root as well.

    This classic tale stands as one of the most notable achievements in American writing. The tale of a Judah Ben-Hur's conversion to Christianity, his life runs parallel and even intersets with Christ's in many spots. Illustrating both the spiritual promises of the kingdom to come, as well as the human want for revenge, this heroic novel has captivated thousands. Unabridged. 382 pages, softcover.

    An exciting new treasury of Jewish stories and storytellers, from ancient tales classics re-imagined to contemporary family stories, parables, and humor.

    Anatolia & Mesopotamia

    This is one of the oldest stories in the world, and it's about many things that still matter to us today: friendship, fame, courage, happiness. Gilgamesh and Enkidu are friends--best friends. Together they can work wonders, fight monsters, brave earthquakes, travel the world! But waiting in the dark is the one enemy they can never overcome. Retold by award-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean, and illustrated with great power by David Parkins, Gilgamesh the Hero is a story that will linger in the imagination long after the book has been put down. Recommended for ages 9 and up.

    Uriah the Hittite has found refuge from the Greeks in the Canaanite city of Tyre. Now the decision by Jotham, the Hebrew, to save a child from being sacrificed to Moloch forces Uriah to choose life over reverence of Tyre's fearsome god. The three escape to the hill country of Judea, where Deborah and Barak are mustering the Hebrews to fight the Canaanites. This meticulously researched novel is set in the time of the Judges, and incorporates Biblical facts with a gripping story, set against the wide background of ancient civilizations.

    The most fascinating story that a man could write is that kind which deals with history that God has shaped. And Cyrus the Persian is that kind of a story, intensely alive and absorbing, because it is drawn from the history of the Jewish people up to the time of their delivery under Cyrus the Great, King of the Medes and the Persians. In recreating this captivating story, Mr. Nagel has "let in the romantic charm of ancient Babylon, and the mystic enchantment of the far east,". He has show us what inspiring heroism grows from faith in the Lord who continually shapes the destinies of His own.

    History Spines & References