Bob Rice’s “Between the Savior and the Sea” is a novelization of the public ministry of Jesus with a focus on St. Peter. It is not a theological treatise, although as Bob says, he based his story on solid theology. Neither is it private revelation, although it is faithful to the public revelation of the Four Gospels. Instead, what Bob has created is a narrative bridge that fills in the gaps of what the Gospels choose to tell us, creating a story that brings the truths about Christ and His apostles to us in new ways that are uniquely suited to a culture such as ours that consumes such stories for hours per day.
To be clear, Bob is not claiming that the way he depicts Jesus, Peter, Mary or any of the figures in the books is the way they actually were. “Between the Savior and the Sea” is undoubtedly not what really happened in the pubic ministry of Christ. But it could be what happened as nearly everything rings true to what Scripture and Tradition tell us.
“Between the Savior and the Sea” accomplishes what every work of Christian fiction should aspire to, namely that as I read it and when I was done I was brought closer to Christ, to His Church, and to His sacraments. At times, I was brought to the point of tears as I contemplated Christ’s love and His sacrifices. Particularly moving was the scene in which Mary receives the Body of Christ from the cross and contemplates Him as the newborn baby He once was.
The focus on St. Peter is especially satisfying. I’ve always loved Peter because it is so easy to identify with him. Having been chosen by the Lord, Peter so obviously fails again and again, and yet manages to also express profound truths about the Lord. In his denial of Jesus, he’s not quite like Judas in the depth of his betrayal, but even so he shows in his life the forgiveness that could have been Judas’ had he not given into despair. Bob’s depiction of Peter’s soaring love for Christ, his self-doubt, his final thrust of himself at the mercy of the Lord all resonate with my own relationship with Christ. How often do I fall in to sin? Yet, even St. Peter failed the Lord at times and look at he got back up time and again to go forward for the Lord.
Some will be bothered by the colloquial language used by the characters in the novel as being too 21st-century American. Others will not like how one or another character does not live up to their own mental images of these people who are in many ways as much a part of our lives as our own families. It can be hard to let encounter someone else’s interpretation of that person.
The research that Bob put into the book shows clearly. He went to the Holy Land and stood in the places he describes and in that way, we stand there too.
At the beginning of Holy Week, this is a perfect time to read this book. It will be good spiritual reading and nourishment for your contemplation of the Passion and Resurrection. If you have a Kindle or a device that can show Kindle books, then you can download the book and be reading it within minutes.
Personal Disclosure: Bob and I went to school together at Franciscan University of Steubenville, but my opinion of his book would be the same regardless.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”