The Gates of Zion

Book Title: The Gates of Zion
Author: Veronica Foldes Frame
Date Published: April 1, 2006
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc
Genre: 1. Historical
ISBN: 978-1414301020
Reviewer: Ruth Rosen

The Gates of Zion is one in an ongoing series of Bodie Thoene’s “Zion Chronicles.”

Who writes historical novels these days? Are they sensationalists, who figure history needs more hype to sell or are they purveyors of politics, who disguise propaganda with a clever plot?

While any number of hidden agendas might be present, there is another possibility. An historic novel might just be the work of a person who cares enough to say what they think but is honest enough to do so in a format which does not claim the same authority as a textbook or biography. This seems to be the case in Bodie Thoene’s The Gates of Zion, the first of a series of historical novels in which the birth pangs of Israel are depicted.

Thoene’s bias is obvious. She is unabashedly pro-Israel. Some might think Bodie Thoene a stranger to Judaism because she claims Jesus as her Messiah, but her father is Jewish and her heart is inextricably tied to the Jewish nation and the people of Israel. The book’s less historic, more “novel” aspects of adventure and romance play second fiddle to the author’s passionate portrayal of the Jewish struggle to survive. The story opens with a brief dramatic prologue set in Qumran, 68 C.E.?Ç”the Dead Sea Scrolls are being hidden.

The writer then catapults us almost two millennia to November of 1947, and the words of Ben Gurion about the Promised Land. What follows is a web of plots including the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and events leading to the establishment of Israel’s statehood. In the midst of it all, Thoene introduces us to heroes and villains whom we alternately admire and fear for the remainder of the book.

The heroines are Ellie, a non-Jewish American photographer and Rachel, a European Jewish “survivor” of Nazi Germany who doesn’t really seem to have survived at all. Ellie finds purpose in helping the Hagganah prepare to defend the city of Jerusalem after the Partition Act. Rachel hopes to be reunited with her grandfather in Jerusalem or with the dead of the concentration camps, for the stigma of her survival is, in her eyes, unforgivable.

Among the heroes are an Israeli archaeologist/Hagganah member, Moshe, and an American flight pilot, David. Moshe would be happy to be left to the study of ancient pottery and scrolls, but his purpose and commitment dictate a different kind of life. David is the seemingly reckless, self-centered character who cares more than he seems to, first for Ellie, and then for the people with whom she has involved herself.

The risks these four take for one another and for the newly emerging state of Israel make for an action-packed novel. Thoene does not take the reader through the actual birth of the state of Israel, but she describes some of the labor pains. She focuses mainly on Jerusalem, and the responses to the Partition Act by the British, Arabs, and Jews. Then too, Thoene provides welcome relief from the seriousness of her subject matter with humor which emerges unexpectedly.

Throughout, the author paints a very sympathetic portrait of the Hagganah and exposes some of the cruelty and deception of Arab terrorism. To her credit, she manages to do so without communicating a slant found in some such literature the reader is never made to feel “the only good Arab is a dead Arab.” Also, her belief in Jesus does surface from time to time, but in a way which is neither sanctimonious and out of place nor so “subtle” as to be considered sneaky.

Those who are interested in Israel and who enjoy sub-plots of adventure and romance should consider adding The Gates of Zion to their list of books to read.

Bodie Thoene has been writing novels and screenplays for years. (She authored the best-selling novel The Fall Guy which became a popular TV series.) The Gates of Zion was written after in-depth interviews with people who lived through many of the events described.


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Ruth Rosen | San Francisco

Newsletter Editor, Missionary

Ruth Rosen, daughter of Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen, is a staff writer and editor with Jews for Jesus. Her parents raised her with a sense of Jewishness as well as "Jesusness." Ruth has a degree in biblical studies from Biola College in Southern California and has been part of our full-time staff since 1979. She's toured with Jewish gospel drama teams and participated in many outreaches. She writes and edits quite a few of our evangelistic resources, including many broadside tracts. One of her favorites is, "Who Needs Politics." Ruth also helps other Jewish believers in Jesus tell their stories. That includes her father, whose biography she authored in what she says was "one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life." For details, or to order your copy of Called to Controversy the Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus, visit our online store. Ruth also writes shorter "faith journey" stories in books like Jewish Doctors Meet the Great Physician as well as in booklets like From Generation to Generation: A Jewish Family Finds Their Way Home. She edits the Jews for Jesus Newsletter for Christians who want to pray for our ministry and our missionaries. In her spare time, Ruth enjoys writing fiction and playing with her dog, Annie whom she rescued. Ruth says, "Some people say that rescue dogs have issues, and that is probably true. If dogs could talk, they'd probably say that people have issues, and that is probably even more true. I'm glad that God is in the business of rescuing people, (and dogs) despite—or maybe because of—all our issues." You can follow Ruth Rosen on facebook or as RuthARosen on twitter.

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