Marcus is the sequel to Father Michael Giesler’s first novel, Junia: The Fictional Life and Death of an Early Christian. Set in second-century Rome, Marcus tells the story of a young pagan nobleman as he first encounters Christianity.
Since Marcus is a philosophy student, the novel represents the inevitable clash of ideas as they play out in conversations, books, and ordinary lives. Marcus’s contemporaries are stirred up by the teaching of Justin, the Christian philosopher and sometime resident of Rome. Christian students are seeking a language that will enable them to distinguish the Logos of John’s Gospel from Stoic uses of the same word. Meanwhile, Gnostic heresies are just beginning to emerge within the churches. And ordinary pagans look with incredulity upon the Church’s exaltation of celibacy, chastity, and virginity — as if it’s the spoilsport at the pagan orgy.
Yet neither Junia nor Marcus is a “novel of ideas.” Giesler’s plots turn mostly on matters of friendship, romantic attraction, rejection, betrayal, and the desire for revenge. Always looming large are the dangers that attended Christian life in the empire: denunciation, humiliation, martyrdom.
Dramatic, engaging, and easy reads, both of Giesler’s novels should be required beach consumption for Christians. Though they’re written by a celibate priest, they’re much sexier than The Da Vinci Code (for example), yet they’re still appropriate for teens on up.
Thus, we are thrilled that Father Giesler is coming to Pittsburgh next week. I hope to see you at one of his public events.