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Kurt Brouwer
The Last Disciple: Crisis in Jerusalem
Kurt Brouwer, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

He was the Beloved Disciple… …and he would be the last. The mantle to tell the whole story has fallen on him. From the Cross, Jesus entrusted John, son of Zebedee, the youngest disciple, with the welfare of Mary, Jesus’s mother. Over thirty years later, as Jerusalem becomes a cauldron of explosive tempers, John receives a calling he doesn’t want. Will he listen and follow? And if he does, will it be too late? In 62 AD, the Jewish high priest executes James, the brother of Jesus, triggering a bitter fight for power in Jerusalem that shatters the quiet life of John. The Jewish people he loves are making dangerous choices that will change the land of Israel forever. Should he stay in Jerusalem and help hold off the Roman onslaught? Or is it time to reach out to those beyond Israel’s borders? If he chooses to leave, what will be his message to these foreign believers? What new words of comfort could he possibly share? Set against a backdrop of actual events, The Last Disciple: Crisis in Jerusalem is the first novel in a new series based on the Bible and Christian history. Follow along while John faces multiple crises and comes to understand what it is to stand alone and lean on only the Lord. Your heart will embrace The Last Disciple: Crisis in Jerusalem because John’s story is the story of our hope and promise.
This rousing Christian historical novel, the first in Brouwer’s Last Disciple series, examines the life and labors of the disciple John (as in, “the Gospel according to …”) some three decades after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Jerusalem is a powder keg, with rising tensions among Romans, the Zealots, and other factions, and John and the early Christians are jolted by the murder of James the Just, their leader, by Ananus, the high priest of the Second Temple. With a new Roman governor arriving soon, and nobody certain whether he’ll side with Ananus or the Christians, John must navigate complex political, religious, and cultural politics, seeking aid from King Herod Agrippa II and the alluring Queen Berenice. But an even more pressing mission soon comes to him from a higher power: Mary herself, whom Jesus charged John with caring for from the cross itself. “Go,” she tells John. “Travel throughout Israel and strengthen the churches.”

And so this reluctant leader must face violence, refugee crises, secret meetings, uneasy alliances, threats to those he loves, rebels marching on Jerusalem, and situations so precarious that even Mary edges toward despair, saying “I cannot conceive of what has become of this city, so many seemingly gone mad.” But even in moments of great loss or after incidents of sometimes shocking violence Brouwer shines a hopeful light as his story fills in crucial lost years of the early church. Brouwer’s speculations are both compelling and plausible, and he deftly introduces a fractious Jerusalem and its conflicting factions.

That emphasis on millenia-old politics doesn’t slow down Brouwer’s warm, assured storytelling that offers crisp prose, engaging dialogue, welcome moments of levity, and a vivid sense of life in the desert, both in its harshness—“The sun, reaching its height, struck the rocks and the heat rose to a suffocating intensity”—and beauty, as “the green slopes of the Mount of Olives shimmered in the distance.” Lovers of biblical historical fiction will be transported.

Takeaway: The disciple John must strengthen the church in this engaging historical novel.

Comparable Titles: R.R. James’s The Baptist, Jay Parini’s The Damascus Road.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A