Reviews of books by Daniel Molyneux
KIRKUS REVIEW of The Angel of Antioch by Daniel Molyneux
"A parablelike tale of spirituality, religion, and persecution."
"Molyneux’s debut reads like Scripture, as it tells a story of a mysterious, increasingly popular spiritual instructor. Set in the ancient city of Antioch, some two centuries before the life of Jesus Christ, the tale centers around Elias, an unassuming teacher who awes his ever-growing audiences with his eloquent wisdom. As his following grows into something akin to a band of disciples, the emperor and religious leaders become alarmed at what they perceive as a challenge to their authority. However, even after it becomes unsettlingly clear that his life is in danger, Elias refuses to abandon his spiritual mission. When one of his followers says, “Teacher we should leave. It is not safe here,” he replies, “My friend, for those who speak the truth and serve the Lord, it is not safe anywhere upon the face of this imperfect World.” In many respects, the narrative echoes the account of Jesus’ life in the Gospels, written from a devotee’s first-person perspective. The author plainly contrasts the intolerance and doctrinal rigidity of institutional religion with the peace of faithful, inner-directed spirituality. Much of the book consists of Elias’ sermons to followers and skeptics alike, and these philosophical explanations give readers plenty of fodder for contemplation."
Dr. Joel Biermann
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
Angel of Antioch takes its place among a body of Christian writing that capitalizes on the many possibilities that spring from the premise of a prophetic visitation in an unexpected place. Molyneux exercises commendable restraint, though, in being content to create a character that is profoundly wise, mysterious, and sacrificial, yet not the Christ... Molyneux's Angel of Antioch does, though, provide a trove of illustrations and metaphors that serve to stimulate fruitful contemplation. Indeed one of the strengths of the book is that it opens wide a door for reflection and discussion not only about the book's plot and character, but about its historical setting and its spiritual truths."
ELIZABETH GOODINE Ph.D.
Instructor of Religious Studies
Loyola University New Orleans
"I was deeply moved by the story and appreciate it both for the way it illuminates this period of history and for the message it offers today. In Elias, Molyneux has created a character who calls me to examine myself and invites me to follow on the path of justice for all - which points toward Christ."
Article in Northern WY Daily News
Article in Casper Journal
Article in Casper Journal
Article in Cody Enterprise
Grady Harp’s review of Elias' Proverbs by Daniel Molyneux
“Friend, most religion is a human creation. Faith in the Mighty One is what matters most.”
In a telling introduction - Reformers vs. Religious Leaders - Daniel states, `Perpetual conflict rages between official institutional religious leaders, and itinerate outsiders who weld charismatic spiritual power but who lack organizational sanction. Israel's kings and religious leaders were called to lead God's people into deeper relationship with their Lord. Instead, institutional authorities repeatedly led the Children of Israel to worship idols, mistreat the poor and powerless, and pervert justice. Whether prophets, apostles, saints, or reformers these charismatic outsiders suddenly appear throughout Scripture and history, conveying a renewed vision of spiritual depth, justice, mercy, love and peace, calling priests, kings, politicians and all people to repentance. In the name of God they disrupt the status quo, challenging the institutional authorities who have gone astray.'
He follows this with a poignant historical setting of Antioch, capital of the Selucid Empire, two centuries before Jesus of Nazareth and the schism between Greek culture and Jewish culture, ending with `The events recorded in this book take place during Antiochus Epiphanes' reign, but before his desecration of the Jerusalem Temple - 1100 years after the Prophet Moses and 200 years before the crucifixion of Yeshua Ha'Mashiach (Jesus the Christ).'
What Daniel has achieved in this novel is a sense of what is faced by one who would speak truth to skeptics. As the story unwinds we sense the faith, persecution, courage and violence faced by prophets/teachers who challenge contemporary concepts. The synopsis states, `A mysterious stranger, Elias, appears in the Great House of Prayer speaking words filled with power and wisdom. Some believe he is an angel, others a prophet, but the religious leaders reject his words, regarding him as a dangerous fool. The emperor becomes uneasy as the Capital is thrown into turmoil because of the stranger's teachings. Journey with "The Angel of Antioch" as he speaks proverbs, parables and insights. Discover the power contained in a few simple words uttered boldly without fear, and the difference a single person can make.'
While clearly within the realm of `religious writing' this novel is much more - it is an examination of what a man of insight and wisdom faces as he courageously questions ancient ideas and concepts. Daniel has not only researched his period well, he has carefully concentrated on the psychology of religious thought and brings a fresh life into sacred teachings. Few who read this book will fail to find deeply moving concepts for contemplation on the role of institutional religion versus open spiritual thought.
John Manhold’s review of Elias' Proverbs by Daniel Molyneux
The volume begins with a thoughtful Introduction containing the following closing sentence: “It is my heartfelt prayer that the poetic proverbs contained in this book will enrich your life in some small way, becoming yet another verse in your own personal spiritual song.” This is followed by a few words from Yutan, his constant companion during “his ministry in Syria”. The proverbs begin with those of a Spiritual nature, followed in Part II by many for all aspects of life: Proverbs for Daily Life; for Wealth and Riches; Love and Marriage; Sexual Intimacy; Parenting and then closes with The Benediction.
Discussion: This little book possibly requires a dichotomous approach for readers with different agendas - that of the poetry devotee and that of the individual more specifically interested in the content of the proverbs. For the former group, this reviewer may be greatly inadequate. As recently confessed, although I infrequently visit Free Verse and other ‘modern poetry’ forms, I find some difficulty because most of my early exposure was to Elizabethan and 17th century Poets and study under a prominent student of Kittredge, the one-time ‘authority on all things Shakespearean’. Content evaluation is another matter and I should like to offer the comment that these are quite instructive and enjoyable. A suggestion is offered “in the Seasons’, for example: “When dark days of winter descend, the light of spring will soon follow. In the same way when life becomes dark and troubled be patient, preserver. There is a season for all things.” Another in True Religion: “It is better to be a loving and merciful heathen than a heartless religious judge.” And still one more ‘gem’: “Know yourself: If you learn all of the mysteries of the cosmos, but fail to know yourself, you remain an educated fool.”
Summary: A charmingly instructive little book in which all readers should find something worthwhile reading.
Review of Judas Son of Simon, by Daniel Molyneux
Molyneux’s novel follows the life of the disciple Judas. Beginning with Judas’ father, Simon Bar-Levi, this retelling of one of the most vilified figures in Christianity starts with the appearance of an angel. Simon is told by Azazel, “the most powerful of all angels,” that his wife will give birth to a son, and the son will be named Judah. As a member of the Sadducee sect of Judaism, Simon may not believe in angels, but he is not one to argue. Judas grows to be a son “beyond compare, sharp minded, mature in personality, likeable, and responsible.” Judas marries the daughter of the High Priest Joseph Caiaphas, and it would seem that he has a bright future in front of him. When a man by the name of John begins preaching by the Jordan River, however, Caiaphas becomes concerned enough to send Judas as a spy. Unexpectedly, Judas finds himself strangely won over, and when Jesus emerges, his interest is piqued. Following Jesus as a spy but also a disciple, Judas’ journey takes him through many familiar biblical events and eventually his own tragic ending. Portraying Judas as a man conflicted, the book offers a view that is sympathetic albeit not one that absolves him of his actions (“They could not have arrested him without my help,” Judas sadly reflects on Jesus’ capture). The story is most powerful when incorporating details of the time period. Even readers familiar with Judas’ life may not grasp the finer differences among the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes or the threat of revolution apparent at the time. Likewise, information about the intersection of Roman and local powers provides insight into how a figure like Jesus, so seemingly innocuous to the mighty Roman Empire (particularly when compared with the violent Zealots), could be put to death in such a grisly way. Period particulars augment this multilayered portrayal of Judas.
The most vilified character in the Bible, Judas Iscariot, was the only disciple whom Jesus called friend, yet his betrayal ultimately led to Jesus's death. In Molyneux's (The Angel of Antioch) skillful hands, the story comes alive in a new way that humanizes Judas and provides insight into the life of Jesus. Beginning with the appearance of the angel Azazel, who tells Simon Bar-Levi to name his soon-to-be born son Judah, the novel traces Judas's life in first-century Israel, from marriage to the high priest's daughter and spying on John the Baptist and Jesus for his father-in-law, to following Jesus as a conflicted disciple and ultimate traitor. The author draws on his training and experience as a biblical scholar and archaeologist to present a fresh perspective on a familiar story. VERDICT Emotionally intense and intricately plotted, this provocative novel profiles Judas in unexpected ways.
Review of Judas Son of Simon by