Fall is in the air in New England. Christmas will be here soon. Looking for an unusual present for the man or young man who has everything?

Allow me to recommend The Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce Longenecker.

These “newly discovered letters” recount the period after Paul’s death while the church was in its infancy. We are allowed to read the “newly found” personal letters between Luke and Antipas. In the course of reading the correspondence, we watch Antipas move from Roman benefactor to Christian martyr.

Longenecker states in his preface:

“The narrative of the final year of Antipas’ life that appears in this following pages is fictional. It arises from one supposition, one fact, and one tradition. The supposition is simple: that the Antipas mentioned in Revelation 2:13 had been named after Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great and pro-Roman tetrarch who reigned over Galilee during the time of Jesus’ ministry. The fact is equally simple: that this Antipas died as a martyr for Christ in Pergamum (cf. Rev. 2:13), where pro-Roman sentiment and emperor worship were rampant….The tradition is that of Antipas’ gruesome martyrdom.”

Although I would wish for a little more emphasis of preaching and the reality of the resurrection, this fictionalized account finds its mark. We learn about Roman culture, the pressures on early Christians, and the courage to worship Jesus as Lord. Almost all of the characters are men. As a man, I particularly enjoyed it.

Art affects the emotions in a way that logic cannot. I leave this reading with a new resolve to stand strong no matter what happens in the coming days. Perhaps it will have the same effect on a man or young man in your life. I fear we will need more stories both true and fictionalized in the coming days.