Though I am fairly Protestant, I have read Maccabees several times (part of the Catholic Deutro-canonical books). Several parts of the Maccabean story sit behind the events of the New Testament (such as Jesus’ triumphal entry and the cleansing of the temple). David deSliva is a New Testament scholar who I have read some and have appreciated his insights (actually the first thing I read from deSilva was a response to a negative review on one of Gordon Fee’s books on Amazon).
In The Day of Atonement : A Novel of the Maccabean Revolt, Desilva presents a novelization of the Maccabean revolt which is meticulously researched and reflects a deSilva’s scholarly understanding of the Maccabean revolt. As someone who has read Maccabees and has often lost the plot, I appreciate the clarity of deSilva’s prose. I learned stuff.
That being said, I didn’t find this to be compelling literature. If you enjoy historical novels you will likely appreciate the care that DeSilva takes in presenting these events. This is didactic fiction–teaching history through story. For what it is, it is pretty good. I give it three stars.
Notcie of material connection: I received this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.