Alexander the Great is dead. His glorious empire has fractured. Jerusalem is ruled by the Ptolemies. Spanning the fourth and third centuries BC (approximately 301 to 200 BC), the Ptolemaic dynasty in Judaea is fraught with conflict.
The Old Testament dwindles to silence so innocuously, so subtly, that it almost closes without notice. The year is circa 430 BC and all has been set aright: the children of Israel have begun to return from Persian exile; the Temple has been rebuilt, albeit ingloriously; the Law has been reestablished; and a portion of Jerusalem’s wall has been reconstructed.
Welcome to the Second Temple period, where the Old Testament ends and the blank page begins.
The demand on the novelist is simple: intimately understand what it means to be human– all the anger, joy, sorrow, weakness, triumph, beauty, brokenness– and depict this humanness in a raw but poetic work of fiction that simultaneously makes readers laugh, cry, and contemplate life (and death), while dramatically and indefinitely altering the way they perceive both themselves and the universe.
As I write these words the radical Islamic group, ISIS, continues to unleash untold barbarities upon the portion of northern Syria and central Iraq that it controls; conflict persists in Ukraine between pro-Russian revolutionaries and government troops despite the declaration of a ceasefire almost a month ago; Ebola spreads across West Africa claiming as many as 3,091 lives (according to WHO) despite efforts to contain it; and tens of thousands of Hong Kong activists gather as part of a pro-democracy movement.