When I read a series, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the vast array of characters who populate the pages. The Acts of Faith series was a pleasant surprise, because several characters play key roles in all three books.
I read The Centurion’s Wife, The Hidden Flame, and The Damascus Way back-to-back-to-back, which I highly recommend, because each succeeding book begins where the last one left off. And while there are a lot of characters, Davis Bunn and Janette Oke weave them in naturally and give us time to get to know each character.
I created a “cheat sheet” to help me keep track of the characters in the Acts of Faith series, and I thought I’d share it with you. Don’t worry; my character sketches don’t include any plot spoilers.
I will give you one hint about the theme. In my opinion, the premise for all three books is: What if you discover the truth about Jesus, and the truth shatters your life?
Now, on to the character sketches!
* Indicates characters who appear in all three books
A.D. 33, in Caesarea, Judea province and Jerusalem
The action takes place immediately following Jesus’ crucifixion, during the 50 days between Passover and Shavuot, or Pentecost.
Leah, age 19
Originally from Verona, Leah had been born to wealth and position. But a because of a financial calamity in her family, Leah now serves as maid for Pontius Pilate’s wife, Procula.
*Alban, age 24, a centurion
Alban commands one of Judea province’s outermost garrisons. The son of a chief in Gaul, Alban is described as “a foreigner who has managed to rise to the rank of centurion.” Alban is not only a fierce warrior, but he is also a kind, skillful leader who is respected by his men.
*Jacob, age 12
Alban’s favored servant.
*Linux Aurelius, Pilate’s aide
A handsome, bold Roman officer, Linux is an aristocrat born in Umbria (northern Italy), who serves as Pilate’s official messenger.
Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea
Herod (along with the high priest, the Sanhedrin, and Pilate) believes that the Roman power structure is in danger from fanatics who claim the carpenter’s son, Jesus, is their Messiah. He says to Pilate, “They are out to destroy us. If they can stir up a large enough rebellion, we will both suffer for it.”
Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea
Pilate lives in an opulent palace in Caesarea, and at the beginning of the book, he is leaving for Jerusalem, where he’ll be in charge of maintaining the peace during the annual Passover festival. Pilate orders Alban to infiltrate the ranks of followers of the prophet Jesus to learn whether there is a threat against Pilate or against Rome.
Claudia Procula, Pontius Pilate’s wife, Roman royalty
Plagued by nightmares and headaches, Procula commissions her servant, Leah, to inquire on her behalf about the followers of the prophet, Jesus.
*Abigail, a young Judean follower of Jesus
*Martha, sister of Lazarus and Mary and stalwart servant of the Lord Jesus.
A.D. 33, Jerusalem
The action begins immediately after The Centurion’s Wife ends, six weeks after Jesus’s crucifixion. In Chapter 2, we jump forward 25 months.
In the midst of great political unrest, followers of the Way live in fear, but simultaneously seek God’s will. The themes in this novel resonate as deeply in the 21st century as they did in the first century.
*Abigail, Linux, Alban, Jacob, and Martha from The Centurion’s Wife
Stephen, a young man and follower of the Way
Born a slave to a Greek, Stephen received his freedom as a gift when his master died. He serves the risen Lord with a quiet passion.
Ezra, a senior merchant
A widower with two children, ages 4 and 6, Ezra’s trading empire stretches from Jerusalem to Damascus and Rome.
Sapphira, Ezra’s youngest sister
Wife to Ananias, Sapphira married into a family of Jerusalem merchants. She is a follower of Jesus.
Gamaliel, elder Pharisee who serves on the Sanhedrin, the Temple Council
Long-time mentor to Ezra, Gamaliel is a perceptive listener and a mediator.
Enos, personal aide to Herod Antipas
Head of the palace staff, Enos is a greedy man, not to be trusted.
Peter, a disciple of Jesus
Marcellus, new governor of Judea (after Pontius Pilate)
A man shaped by idleness and indulgence, Marcellus is angling for the position of consul of Rome (an extremely powerful political position, one who acts as a bridge between the emperor and the Senate).
Circa A.D. 40
The story takes place mainly in Tiberias, the Samaritan Plains, and the Megiddo Plains.
It is no longer safe to be a follower of the Way. Spies are everywhere and charges of misconduct – religious and otherwise – are leveled daily against those in the community. As a result, people who trust in the risen Jesus are dispersing from Jerusalem. As they attempt to forge new lives in unfamiliar places, they learn to listen to God’s voice, lean on God’s protection, and trust God amidst life’s uncertainly.
The core question this book addresses is: How can I live so that when someone sees me, they are pointed to Jesus?
*Jacob (now 20 years old), Abigail, Martha, Linux, and Alban from the first two books.
Julia, a young woman, daughter of the wealthy merchant, Jamal
Jamal, a Syrian trader and merchant of Greek lineage
Julia’s father, Jamal, owns a large caravan and the trading grounds outside Tiberias. He is away from home many months at a time, dividing his time between Tiberius and Damascus.
Helena, Julia’s mother, a Samaritan
Zoe, Helena and Julia’s beloved servant, a follower of the Way
Saul of Tarsus, a young Pharisee
Tall, lean, and hard, Saul is a religious version of a bird of prey. Certain of his authority, Saul will sentence any man who opposes him to death.
Philip the evangelist
An educated, quiet man and one of Jesus’ disciples, Philip is highly respected among followers of the Way for his passion and dedication.
Dorcas, age 4, Abigail’s daughter
Cornelius, senior centurion within the Italian Guard
The Italian Guard is the preeminent brigade in Judea and is staffed by Rome’s elite.
Yelban, village elder in Nain and at the market in Megiddo. Tavern owner.
Helzebah, a woman from Sychar
In the Bible, Helzebah is the Samaritan woman at the well whom Jesus met. Her witness is responsible for entire villages becoming believers.
Simon, a wizard who lives in Nain
A famous wizard, Simon is known throughout Samaria. In the Bible, you’ll find his story in Acts 8:9.
Laura Christianson manages Davis Bunn’s blog. The author of three non-fiction books, Laura owns Blogging Bistro, a company that helps businesses and individuals enhance their Internet presence.