While a dozen and a half readers consume and ponder the first complete draft of “Shackles,” I’m presenting my personal fantasy cast for the movie version of the book. This creative meandering is entirely dependent on the book actually getting published, someone adapting it for film, and someone else having unlimited funds to afford this brilliant cast.
You’ll meet the rest of the cast of primary characters tomorrow – Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy and Luke. I’ve made my selections, but who would you pick to play those icons of the New Testament? After the cast is named, I’ll start announcing my playlist for the motion picture soundtrack. Go ahead and start giving me your suggestions. (Tip: secular music is okay).
Today’s excerpt of “Shackles.”
CHAPTER 8 / PERSECUTOR
“The tide has left our shores, Saul.” Gamaliel stepped to the side. “I’m hearing that many – dozens, perhaps hundreds – of those believers avoided capture and are scattered throughout Judea and even Samaria.”
Saul refused to debate his old teacher. Another member of the council also spoke out.
“That Jesus fellow chose a dozen disciples and then appointed 70 more,” the man said. “Do you know where they are?”
Saul quickly answered. “That 70 number was a myth. More like 10. Most of those derelicts gave up right away when they realized that Jesus wasn’t going to pay them wages, and they wised up after going out into the masses and trying to follow his radical teachings.”
“Are you so sure?” Gamaliel asked.
“What does my teacher know that can help us squelch this apostasy?” Saul replied.
“Have you found those original disciples? I believe they are all still in Jerusalem. All but one. Killed himself, I heard.” Gamaliel scanned the faces of other Pharisees. Many did not return his glance. “The others. In hiding, I’m sure, but still here. And I’ve heard that one of those extra 70, a man named Phillip, has already been to Ethiopia. Preaching about Jesus.”
The Sanhedrin collectively gasped. “That’s neither Judaea nor Samaria,” one man said. “The tide certainly has left our shores.”
“How many?” Saul shouted. “With the high priest’s permission, I will personally hunt them down and bring them back here for justice.”
“Your anger is fueling their cause,” Gamaliel said. “This persecution you have unleashed is actually fulfilling their twisted prophecies about the message of Christ spreading well beyond our borders. Without your persistence and persecution, they would have stayed right here in this city until they had either converted everyone or their little fad had run its course. Or until the Romans tired of the drama and dispatched them on crosses.”
Gamaliel walked away. “You should visit with some of your prisoners who have relatives in Syria.”
“A hundred miles from here?” Paul asked.
Gamaliel turned toward him. “Just a little further than that.” He pointed to the northwest. “Damascus.”