A Conspiracy of Breath (Latayne C. Scott) – Review

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5 stars

~ About the Book ~

In a richly-textured, controversial and provocative literary work, award-winning author Latayne C. Scott examines: What would it have been like to be a woman, a Gentile, and someone onto whom the Holy Breath moved – to produce what became the mysterious Epistle to the Hebrews in the Bible?

“This book changed me, deepened my love for The Breath, and swelled my appreciation for those who sacrificed so much to ensure people like me…could turn the parchment pages and read Truth for ourselves. I didn’t want to leave this story and fear Latayne has spoiled me as a reader. That’s how thoroughly it captivated my heart and rearranged my definition of elegant and life-altering storytelling.” Cynthia Ruchti, Golden Scroll-winning author of A Fragile Hope and Song of Silence.

Genre:  Biblical/Historical Fiction
Release date:  26 August 2017
Pages:  430
Publisher:  Trinity Southwest University Press

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

“A Roman woman who reads Greek and knows the Law and the Prophets. What a treasure you have, you know!” Philo said.
Behind him, Mathos muttered, “Wish I’d known any of this before. We could have had an intelligent conversation, which I assure you is a rare commodity in that market-place…”
“Perhaps our well-read sister can join us in a knotty problem,” Peter interrupted. I had heard how this once-unlearned man had devoted himself to instructions and philosophies. “Our brother John speaks often of the Logos, but he says that Jesus was the Logos,” he said. “So, tell Philo what you have perceived about what he says about the Logos. Is what Philo says the same as John?”
“John, the apostle? Is that who says that?” I asked.
“The same. The one Jesus loved.”
“Did Jesus tell him this?” I asked. “Or he has this,” I searched for the right words, “he has this by revelation?”
I saw Peter’s visor eyes assessing in arcs between me and Philo, stopping when I said the word “revelation.”
“It is my understanding that this was brought to him by the Holy Breath.”
This Holy Breath, I knew. But I dared not say such a thing to Peter.
“I will speak for Philo, only if he is gracious enough to correct me when I stray from accuracy,” I said, my eyes down. When I looked up, all the men were nodding, and I continued, my voice low and shaking.
“Philo has said that the Logos—the concept where all ideas, that is, their reality, resides—is the first-begotten Son of God.” Philo closed his eyes dramatically, gesturing me on.
“But not God, not the same as God.” I finished. Philo sighed.
“I have heard John say this: that the Logos was with God and was God,” Peter said.
“And John is beginning to write his account of his time with the Christos,” said Mathos. “And John calls him Logos there. And calls Jesus ‘God’ as well.”
“So,” my words walked carefully through the spiked lives and barbed years of knowledge in that room, “so if Philo’s concept of Logos is not identified with God Himself, as John’s is, it is not the same.”
Then I recalled the Holy Breath’s words to me and I exhaled them to these men:
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory,” I said. “And the exact representation of his being.”
Peter was looking at me with that narrowed look again.
“About the Son, He says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever.'” I could hardly speak, my breathing so tightly embraced by my lungs that it barely escaped.
“Ah,” said Philo.
No one spoke for several moments. Pudens ran his dried-meat finger along the lip of his wine cup, then curled a drooping grape stem into the middle of a dish: a perfected circle.
I had the impression that they had already settled this among them. But not with those words, with our shared language, the Breath and I.
Now what they had debated, caressed and stabbed with conversation, was ratified by a woman. I wondered what of possible use that could be.
I pondered that all through the evening, as the conversations ebbed back and forth through the room. Though Philo and Pudens and even Peter would sometimes defer to me with their eyes and include me in sweeping arm motions as they spoke, I listened only and did not speak again. I hoped, desperately hoped, that a woman’s prudence would buy us another invitation to the house of Pudens.

~ Review ~

If you enjoy Biblical fiction (or even historical fiction for that matter), I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of this novel. It’s intelligently written with elegant, imagery-rich prose, and the story will open your eyes to a whole new understanding of what it was like for Christ’s followers in the apostolic era—not just in terms of the ever-present threat of persecution, but what it would have been like to grapple with understanding the New Covenant in the intellectual and religious climate of the time.

The novel is based on a premise that may seem controversial at first—it portrays Priscilla, wife of Aquila, as the person through whom the Holy Spirit (or the ‘Holy Breath’ as He is referred to here) breathed the book of Hebrews. The author provides an introduction that explains the experiences and the historical facts that came together to seed this story, but whether or not you believe Priscilla’s ‘authorship’ possible, you cannot help but be drawn in by her story as the author presents it.

Priscilla’s characterisation is masterful and wonderfully authentic. She is unusual for her time in that she reads Greek, knows the Law and the Prophets, and thrives on intellectual discourse, and yet she is also very much a woman of her time—a devoted wife and mother, and always deferential to the men in her life. And Latayne C. Scott gets every aspect right on point. But what blew me away was how fundamentally human she was. She struggled—physically and mentally grappled—with the knowledge that, for all the beauty of the Gospel, the way of sharing that Gospel was not smooth. She knew Peter and Paul had healed others, and yet her dearest friend and companion, Cordelia, is not only never healed, but becomes more withered and crippled as the years pass. Priscilla struggles against the Holy Breath at times, describing herself as ‘becoming both projectile and besieged city’ such was the resoluteness of the Breath, and wrestling with Him ‘like cyclones colliding over an open sea.’ And yet her faith remains through it all.

This was an utterly captivating and immersive story. You cannot read it and remain unaffected by the struggles and faith of our forebears in Christ!

I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ About the Author ~

GQ0T1022RTLatayne C. Scott is the award-winning author of over almost two dozen books, published by major Christian publishers such as Zondervan, Moody, Baker, Howard, Word and others. In addition, she has published poems, radio plays, and hundreds of articles in magazines such as Today’s Christian Woman, Guideposts, Writer’s Digest, The Upper Room, Christian Research Journal, Christian Retailing, and Military Officer. A full-time writer, she also speaks at seminars, retreats, and on television and radio programs. She has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Trinity Southwest University and  is the recipient of Pepperdine University’s Distinguished Christian Service Award for Creative Christian Writing. She is a full-time, patron-supported author who makes her home in her native New Mexico.

Connect with Latayne:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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7 Responses to A Conspiracy of Breath (Latayne C. Scott) – Review

  1. I am honored by the time and attention to detail that you gave my book. All the glory to God, and thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. deannene says:

    Beautifully written with historical accuracy and obvious research, I could not put this book down. Latayne has once again painted a wonderful picture of a believable woman who probably did write the book of Hebrews.

    Liked by 1 person

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