The Last Temple (Tyndale House, 2012) is the conclusion of a three-part fiction series based on the NT book of Revelation from Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer. The series presents a competing vision for what the literal fulfillment of Revelation looks like. In Hanegraaff and Brouwer’s interpretation, Revelation speaks to the immediate future realities facing the city of Jerusalem and the persecuted church in Rome and throughout the Roman empire.
The tale follows the adventures of Gallus Sergius Vitas, Roman general and one-time member of Nero’s inner circle, as he continues his quest to understand the mystery behind his release, a mystery that is tied up with the symbolism in the treasonous letter of Revelation. After meeting John the Beloved himself, Vitas faces his own torturous death and survives. He then aims his political clout toward revenge and even insurrection against that beast of a man, Nero. Along the way, the continued struggles in Judea finally come to a head in Jerusalem’s terrible fall at the hands of Titus.
This book brings to an end a saga which perfectly captures Roman and Jewish life in the 60s (A.D.). What Hanegraaff and Brouwer were able to accomplish was truly breathtaking. As historical fiction goes, this series was top notch. They brought you inside the gates of Jerusalem to witness intrigue, rebellion and outright slaughter. You were whisked into the maze of tunnels under Jerusalem to witness secret trysts and the concealment of priceless Jewish treasures. The dark terror that inhabited Nero’s mansion and plagued those closest to him was almost palpable. And the forlorn suffering of those condemned to die in the arena is something I won’t easily forget. The author’s attention to detail bring the years before A.D. 70 to life as we follow the characters around the Roman world, from Rome to Alexandria, on sea and over land, to dungeons, arenas, and even to the cross itself on a hillside in Judea. We are inside and outside Jerusalem in the years leading up to its devastation, and the story is believable yet mysterious and keeps you guessing until the end.
With this title, I had to go back and read the first two books in the series first. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleased to find it wasn’t a polemic against other end times positions so much as it was a very well conceived story in its own right that does follow a partial preterist interpretation of the Book of Revelation. It’s a rewarding tale which also serves to show how the Book of Revelation may have been understood in its own day. Even if you are skeptical of a preterist view of Revelation, this series will still prove inspiring as it brings to life a story of struggle that both the early church and the people of Israel endured. I highly recommend it.
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Disclaimer: This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
About Book Briefs: Book Briefs are book notes, or short-form book reviews. They are my informed evaluation of a book, but stop short of being a full-length book review.