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Petra An Unbroken Legacy: Book Review

Petra: An Unbroken Legacy, is ideal for Christians who love seeing the Holy Spirit active today, interacting with believers, healing, guiding and helping us. I bought this paperback from the author, Dr. Lisa L. Dorsey, at a conference for Christian creatives. I respect the author, a woman with a doctorate in theology who has been a pastor for many years. The novel attracted my interest because I like to read about the early church, and it imagines Saul during his three years in Arabia, about which historical records are lost. It is a gripping story of how the Holy Spirit works in our lives and how Americans and Arabs can be united by their Christian faith.


book cover
Petra: An Unbroken Legacy

Author: Lisa L. Dorsey

Publisher: Hope Books

Published: June 7, 2024


This is a dual timeline story, told entirely in first-person, with subtitles where the point of view changes. The characters of ancient times are the focus of the first several pages. I appreciated how Saul suggested to the Arabians that they learn together; he taught from his expertise about the Scriptures and prophecies, and they taught from their first-hand experiences with Jesus and the Last Supper. I loved thinking about how Arabs were baptized by the Spirit at Pentecost and there have been Arab Christians from the earliest times. The novel shows Joel’s prophecy fulfilled, and the Spirit empowering both women and men believers, yet follows today’s evangelical policy that men may teach everyone while a woman speaks only with the women.


The current-day characters are introduced next and become the main focus, with the plot largely a romance and an archaeological dig. The adventures in the novel become more harrowing with twists and turns as the risks increase, both from people who oppose Kasim’s family and from the archaeological digs. An exciting conclusion!


Spoilers ahead:


Issa and Kasim are both widowed and meet with maturity and mutual respect and concern for one another. I loved learning about Arab culture, traditions, food, clothing, and celebrations. I liked Issa, a very accomplished American professional in her 40s who feels imposter syndrome. Issa quickly forgives Kasim, the wealthy, charismatic man who has ignored her for decades.  Kasim's family values their pure lineage, and Issa is of mixed-race, but Kasim confronts his father and explains 'Issa is the gift God has given'.


Kasim says he treasures Issa, yet he withholds information in order to gain personal power, he secretly investigates her family history, calls her a stupid woman, and controls some of her activity and discussions. Kasim isolates Issa so that she dresses and acts Arabian and is grafted into his (superior) family legacy. He seems willing to risk Issa’s life both in calling her to the archaeological dig and insisting that whoever he marries must bear him a male heir.


My personal experience makes me somewhat offended that Kasim seems desperate for a male heir and discounts his daughter as an eligible heir. It makes me feel like daughters, girls, and women, are less valued. Women are permitted to be heirs in the Quran (Ayah an-Nisa 4:7) and the Bible (Numbers 27:2-7, Joshua 17:4, Romans 8:17, 1 Peter 3:7). 


The goal of the archaeological dig is to find the lost scrolls that will prove Kasim's family’s unbroken legacy of Christianity from Apostle Paul to Kasim. It suggests that proving Kasim had Christian ancestors will provide Kasim's family with religious rights and protections. I am excited to imagine that Pau wrote letters to the Arabian Christians in the first century. It is exciting to think that Christianity was present in present-day Jordan even before Islam became a religion.


I am not excited at the suggestion that proof of an early Christian presence might be a basis to claim that Christians are rightful heirs to the land and Muslims are not. I am not excited that proof of ancient scrolls will mean more protection only for those families who have an unbroken relationship with Christians of the first century. Jordan is an Islam nation admired for tolerance and permitting Christians to worship freely. I am thankful for freedom of religion, whether a person's belief is new or shared by their ancestors, whether it is the religion of the first peoples of a land or more recent settlers. I would not want one version of any religion to control the government.


Conclusion:

An exciting cross-cultural adventure as people of today discover truths about Christians in ancient Arabia. It affirms beliefs common among charismatic Christians today.


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