I am not an avid reader of fiction or historical fiction. However, I am suprised that many Christians have not read or even heard of one of my favorite books, Quo Vadis.
"Quo Vadis" is Latin for "Where are you going, Lord." The novel tells a love story between a young Christian girl and a Roman soldier in the city of Rome during the time of Nero. The book originally was published in 1896 and has been translated in 50 languages. To be honest, the first 150 pages or so are tough ground to plow, but from there the plot picks up. Henryk Sienkiewcz, the author, won the 1905 Nobel Prize for Literature, primarily because of this book.
The book appears on the list of The 50 Best Historical Novels for a Survey of Ancient Roman History.
Here are some lines from the book:
Chapter 26 p.192
"Rome vanished for them then, Vinicius knew. There was no empire, no legions and no conquests. There was no mad, maniacal emperor anymore; nor were there any temples, gods, or pagans in their world. There was only Christ, who filled the earth, the seas, the sky and all existence."
Chapter 34 p. 253
“He rose and turned to go, and Crispus saw the hunchbacked crooked little man for what he really was; a giant who would shake the earth, possess all the lands, and seize the hearts and souls of all their people.” Referring to Paul
Chapter 44 p. 317
Their (Nero and Peter) glances locked for a while-the one mild and curios, the other venomous and bitter-and no one in that vast gathering of people or within Caesar’s brilliant retinue realized that the two most powerful rulers of mankind were looking at each other just then. Nor did it even occur to anyone that one of them would soon be gone, vanished into darkness like a gory nightmare, while the other, the old man in the worn gray cloak of slaves and wanderers, would seize possession of the city and the world and hold them forever.
Chapter 61 p. 437 & 438
But for you I’m God’s apostle and his deputy on earth. I tell you in Christ’s name you’ve nothing to fear! LIFE waits for you, not death. Joy without end, not torments. Song waits, not tears and moaning. Thrones wait for you not slavery!
Chapter 76 p. 522
And then he died. All of a sudden a deep and powerful voice rang out from under the velarium. “Peace be to the martyrs!”
Chapter 83 p. 554
Suddenly he threw himself on his knees, his arms lift upward and stretched to the light, and his lips cried out: “Christ! O Christ !” His head beat against the dust as if he were kissing the feet of someone only he could see. Then there was silence. “Quo vadis, Domine?” his voice asked at last, punctured by his sobbing. “Where are you going, Lord?” Nazarius heard no answer. But a voice of ineffable sweetness and abundant sorrow rang in Peter’s ears. “When you abandon my people,” he heard, “I must go to Rome to be crucified once more.”
Chapter 84 p. 556
The old man’s face (Peter) was so cheerful and untroubled, and it glowed with such immense confidence and joy, that everyone understood at once this wasn’t a victim going to his execution but a conqueror marching to his triumph.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.