Peril and Peace
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Peril and Peace
Author: Mindy and Brandon Withrow
Series: History Lives series. Volume 1: Chronicles of the Ancient Church
Major Themes: Ancient History, Rome, Early Church
Synopsis: Gripping stories of various early Christians.
I have always loved history, especially when presented in the form of a story. As a side note, did you ever notice that the word “story” is in “history”? History is the story of people! This book really brought the early Christians to life. The first story is about the Apostle Paul. Anyone who has ever read the book of Acts knows the story of the shipwreck he suffered on the way to Rome in the last few chapters of the book, but this retelling makes it all new! As we read it aloud, everyone was listening with all their might, so as not to miss a word of the exciting tale. It sticks to the facts recorded by Luke—but fleshes them out and adds a lot of dialogue to make the story really come alive.
The rest of the book follows the same pattern. A famous man from a particular time is chosen to represent the church of that time, and a story presents part of his life in an exciting way. We get to meet such people as Polycarp, Justin, Ambrose, Augustine, Patrick, and Benedict, among others. Interspersed between the stories are occasional brief chapters giving more information about the early church, such as how they held their worship services, persecution, or how we got the Bible. One thing I especially appreciated was the chapter about Constantine. Now this is my viewpoint, but I don’t believe Constantine became a Christian. Yes, he legalized Christianity, and as far as that goes he did good for the church, but as far as I’ve been able to learn, he never yielded his life to Jesus. This book tells the story of how he came to legalize Christianity, but does not make him out to be a Christian himself—I appreciate that!
This book is great as a supplement to a study of the Roman empire, or the early church. I wouldn’t use this book as the main spine of a study of Christianity, but it certainly helps to flesh it out! It’s also a good family read-aloud; my boys certainly loved it! They cheered when I said it was time to read it, and are glad we have the rest of the series.
WARNING: For sensitive young children, some descriptions might be just a bit much. The early church underwent a lot of persecution, and it wasn’t pretty. The authors show just enough to help you see the devotion and courage of those men and women of God, but parental discretion should be exercised as to when the children are ready for it.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15
Links to buy Peril and Peace:
Keywords: Ambrose, Apostle Paul, Athanasius, Augustine, Benedict, Constantine, Cyprian, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Justin Martyr, Origen, Patrick, Polycarp