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The Spear: A Novel of the Crucifixion by…

The Spear: A Novel of the Crucifixion

by Louis De Wohl

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A thoughtful fictionalization of the life of Cassius Longinus, the centurion who thrust his spear into Christ's side at the Crucifixion and Cassius's secular and spiritual journey. In Rome, Cassius sells himself into slavery and becomes a gladiator, in order to save his father from prison. Because of his prowess in the arena, he is freed and enters the army, travelling to Judaea with Pilate and his wife Claudia, with whom the young man is infatuated. We meet figures of the Gospels: Bar Abbas and his circle of rebels, Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany, the Virgin Mary, the various Jewish priests, Pharisees and Sanhedrin and various Roman soldiers, including the wise old Primus Pilus, Abenadar. And we meet Cassius's lady love, Naomi. [He has outgrown his infatuation for Claudia.] The Passion and Resurrection play out and we follow his spiritual crisis and its resolution.

Most characters but Cassius, Claudia, and Abenadar seemed bloodless to me. Cassius was the strongest; I got into his head and thoughts. It seemed to me that Naomi turned too quickly from her secular love [Cassius] to absolute devotion to Christ. I think maybe she should have had some kind of spiritual crisis herself. Although 60 years old, this novel has held up well. There were a few minor factual errors but they didn't interrupt the story and the point the author was trying to make. I can see why it is a classic in its genre.

Highly recommended. ( )
  janerawoof | Apr 21, 2016 |
Comparisons with [b:The Robe|219919|The Robe|Lloyd C. Douglas|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1388708276s/219919.jpg|467637] are inevitable. I didn't like The Spear quite as much; it hasn't aged as well, for one thing--especially where female characters are concerned. I'm still not quite sure what I think of the scene where the main character, Cassius (later to become Saint Longinus), practically rapes the love interest Naomi. The author attempts to sanitize it by having Naomi admit she loves Cassius, but she was clearly taken advantage of and she just isn't given enough of a voice for me to find it convincing--particularly when she promptly forgets about Cassius after meeting Jesus. I'd have liked to see more of her own inner conflict: if she really did love Cassius, as the author wants us to believe, I think it would be more compelling if this had complicated her devotion to Christ a little more. As it is she comes off as too perfect, too holy, therefore unrelatable. But some of the characters are compellingly drawn, Cassius in particular. I didn't care for him at first, but I warmed to him as he matured through hardship and lost his naive idealism; I wanted to see him find catharsis and redemption. And the story is cleverly plotted (though the omniscient narration clunks a bit). ( )
  9inchsnails | Mar 7, 2016 |
  inayabiblioteca | Jul 27, 2013 |
A very intriguing novel about one of my favorite saints, Saint Longinus. De Wohl creates a story about the last days of Christ, intricately weaving it with the life of the Roman centurion who would pierce His side to prove his death, and in fact is converted. ( )
  laudemgloriae | Sep 2, 2009 |
Christopher Desilets Fredericksburg Academy
August 27, 2007 Grade 11

The Spear
Louis de Wohl
Ignatius Press, 1998

Considered to be the “magnum opus” of his literary career, Louis de Wohl wrote his epic novel, The Spear, based upon the crucifixion of Christ and how it affects one of its least-known and expected participants. It is a novel that describes the life of one man who struggles with maintaining order within Judea, and finding what his purpose in life is.
The novel begins with Louis introducing the main character, Cassius Longinus, as a centurion in the Roman army. He is dispatched to the strife-torn hills of Judea as a body guard for the emperor Pilatus where he discovers that religion is the basis for Jewish society. When the time comes for the Passover feast, Cassius is overwhelmed with maintaining order within the streets of Jerusalem because of the animosity that has accumulated between the mobs and the laws authorized by the Roman Tribune. However, another issue occurs that is brought to the emperor’s attention. The Pharisees report to the tribune that a certain man named Jesus of Nazareth has been blaspheming against the Jewish religion proclaiming that he is the son of God and in addition has been saying not to pay tribute to Caesar. Therefore, a hearing is called and Pilatus finds nothing guilty with the man. However, because of the coercion and the large number of Jews present, Pilatus is forced to coincide with the mob’s request and hand him over to the Jewish people to be crucified. Cassius is later called that evening to report to the emperor Pilatus and is told to remove the three crucified bodies to be burnt. Before the bodies are taken down, the legs of the thieves on either side of Jesus are broken to prevent any possible escape. However, Cassius recognizes that Jesus is already and rather than breaking his legs he pierces his heart with a spear to ensure death. Suddenly, out flows blood and water from the side of Christ. It is at this moment that Cassius understands why so many of the Nazarene’s followers cry and lament the fact that they have just killed the Messiah. The Roman soldier who pierced the side of Christ, the man who previously believed in the pagan Roman gods and someone who had slight knowledge of who the rabbi Yeshua was, has been completely transformed and inspired to follow and live the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Louis de Wohl’s main reason for writing this novel is not just to give the reader an exciting background portrait of the man who pierced the side of Christ, but he is also trying to write a story that the reader can relate to. Cassius was a sober yet riled man whose life was shattered after the murder of his loving father. He felt he had no one to turn toward and find consolation in. Therefore, when he encountered Christ on the cross ha had a completely different perspective on life after witnessing the weeping followers who were so very much devoted to Him but had no familial relation to Him. Many times we may find ourselves in situations where we cannot turn toward anyone to express how we feel. However, God is always listening and attentive to what we have to say. Therefore, we can always find liberation and confide in God, just as Cassius went on to do.
1 vote cdesilets | Aug 29, 2007 |
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This panoramic novel of the last days of Christ ranges from the palaces of imperial Rome to the strife-torn hills of Judea-where the conflict of love and betrayal, revenge and redemption, reaches a mighty climax in the drama of the Crucifixion. For this is the full story of the world's most dramatic execution, as it affected one of its least-known participants-the man who hurled his spear into Christ on the Cross.
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