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"Why has St. Luke always obsessed me?" | Foreword to Dear and Glorious Physician: A Novel About
Saint Luke | Taylor Caldwell
This book has been forty-six years in the writing. The first version
was written when I was twelve years old, the second when I was twenty-two, the
third when I was twenty-six, and all through those years work did not cease on
The last version began five years ago. It was impossible to complete, as the
other versions were impossible to complete, until my husband and I visited the
Holy Land in 1956, and until my husband could give me the information for the
last third of the book, and other assistance.
From my early childhood Lucanus, or Luke, the great Apostle, has obsessed my
mind. He was the only Apostle who was not a Jew. He never saw Christ. All that
is written in his eloquent but restrained Gospel he acquired from hearsay, from
witnesses, from the Mother of Christ, from disciples, and from the Apostles.
His first visit to Israel took place almost a year after the Crucifixion.
Yet he became one of the greatest of the Apostles. Like Saul of Tarsus, later
to be known as Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, he believed that Our Lord
came not only to the Jews but to the Gentiles, also. He had much in common with
Paul, because Paul too had never seen the Christ. Each had had an individual
revelation. These two men had difficulty with the original Apostles because the
latter stubbornly believed for a considerable time that Our Lord was
incarnated, and died, only for the salvation of the Jews, even after Pentecost.
Why has St. Luke always obsessed me, and why have I always loved him from
childhood? I do not know. I can only quote Friedrich Nietzsche on this matter:
"One hears--one does not seek; one does not ask who gives--I have never
had any choice about it."
This book is only indirectly about Our Lord. No novel, no historical book, can
convey the story of His life so well as the Holy Bible. So the story of
Lucanus, or St. Luke, is the story of every man's pilgrimage through despair
and life-darkness, through suffering and anguish, through bitterness and
sorrow, through doubt and cynicism, through rebellion and hopelessness to the
feet and the understanding of God. This search for God and the final revelation
are the only meaning in life for men. Without this search and revelation man
lives only as an animal, without comfort and wisdom, and his life is futile, no
matter his station or power or birth.
A priest, who helped us write this book, said of St. Luke, "He was Our
Lady's first troubadour." Only to Luke did Mary reveal the Magnificat,
which contains the noblest words in any literature. He loved her above all the
women he had ever loved.
My husband and I have read literally over a thousand books about Luke and his
times, and a bibliography is included at the end of this novel for anyone who
wishes to do further reading on these matters. If the world of Luke sounds
astoundingly modern to any reader, with modern implications, it is a fact.
This book may not be the best in the world, but it was written with love and
devotion for our fellow men, and so it is finally given into your hands, for it
concerns all mankind.
Almost all the events and background of St. Luke's earlier life, manhood, and
seeking, also his family and the name of his adopted father, are authentic. It
should always be remembered that St. Luke was, first of all, a great physician.
When I was twelve years old I found a large book written by a nun who then
lived in Antioch, containing many of the legends about St. Luke, which will not
be found in historical books about him nor in the Bible. She related the
legends and some obscure traditions about him, including the many miracles, at
first unknown to him, which he accomplished before he even went to the Holy Land.
Some of these legends are from Egypt, some from Greece. They are included in
this novel about him. He did not know at that time that he was one of the
chosen of God, nor that he would attain sainthood.
The mighty and splendid Babylonian Empire (or Chaldea) is not familiar to many
readers, nor its studies in medicine and its medical treatments by the
priest-physicians, and its science--all of which the Egyptians and the Greeks
inherited. The Babylonian scientists understood magnetic forces, and used them.
These things were contained in thousands of volumes in the wonderful University
of Alexandria, which was burned by the Emperor Justinian several centuries
later in an excess of misguided zeal. Modern medicine and science are beginning
to rediscover these things. The present age is poorer for Justinian's fervor.
Had Babylonian science and medicine come down to us unbroken, our knowledge of
the world and man would be vastly more advanced than it is at present. We have
not as yet discovered how the Babylonians lighted their sails at night by a
"cold fire, more brilliant than the moon", and how they illuminated
their temples by this same cold fire.
Apparently they had some way of utilizing electricity unknown to us, and not in
our present clumsy manner. It is reported that they used "land
vessels" without horses, lighted at night, and attaining great speed. (See
the Book of Daniel.) It is also reported that they used strange
"stones" or a kind of ore for the cure of cancer. They were expert in
the employment of hypnotism, in psychosomatic medicine. Abraham, a resident of
the city of Ur, in Babylonia, brought this treatment of psychosomatic medicine
to the Jews, who used it through all the centuries. The Magi, "the Wise
Men of the East", who brought gifts to the Infant Jesus, were Babylonians,
though that nation long before had suffered a great decline.
Where authorities differ about some of the incidents in this book, or the
background, I have used the major decisions. The Gospel of St. Luke is used
exclusively here, so much that appears in the Gospels of Sts. Matthew, Mark and
John is not included.
I wish, at this time, to thank Dr. George E. Slotkin of Eggertsville, N.Y,
famous urologist and professor emeritus, School of Medicine, Buffalo, N.Y., for
his invaluable assistance in the field of ancient as well as modern medicine.
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles and Excerpts:
Jesus in the Gospel of Luke |
Introduction to Jesus, The Divine Physician: Encountering Christ in the Gospel of Luke | Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
A Shepherd Like No Other |
Excerpt from Behold, God's Son! Encountering Christ in the Gospel of Mark | Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
Encountering Christ in the Gospel |
Excerpt from My Jesus | Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
The Truth of the Resurrection |
Excerpts from Introduction to Christianity | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Seeing Jesus in the Gospel of John |
Excerpts from On The Way to Jesus Christ | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
A Jesus Worth Dying For |
A Review of On The Way to Jesus Christ | Justin Nickelsen
The Divinity of Christ | Peter Kreeft
Jesus Is Catholic | Hans Urs von Balthasar
The Religion of Jesus | Blessed Columba Marmion
| From Christ, The Ideal of the Priest
Dear and Glorious Physician: A Novel About Saint Luke | Taylor Caldwell
Today St. Luke is known as the author of the third Gospel of the New Testament, but two thousand years ago he was Lucanus, a Greek, a man who loved, knew the emptiness of bereavement, and later
traveled through the hills and wastes of Judea asking, "What manner of man was my Lord?" And it is of this Lucanus that Taylor Caldwell tells here in one of the most stirring stories ever lived or written.
Lucanus grew up in the household of his stepfather, the Roman govenor of Antioch. After studying medicine in Alexandria he became one of the greatest physicians of the ancient world and traveled
far and wide through the Mediterranean region healing the sick.
As time went on he learned of the life and death of Christ and saw in Him the God he was seeking. To find out all he could about the life and teachings of Jesus, whom he never saw, Lucanus
visited all the places where Jesus had been, questioning everyone--including His mother, Mary--who had known Him or heard Him preach. At last, when he had gathered all information possible, he wrote
down what we now know as the Gospel according to St. Luke.
Taylor Caldwell has chosen the grand, the splendid means to tell of St. Luke. Her own travels through the Holy Land and years of meticulous research made Dear and Glorious Physician a fully developed
portrait of a complex and brilliant man and a colorful re-creation of ancient Roman life as it contrasted in its decadence with the new world Christianity was bringing into being. Here is a story to warm,
to inspire, to call forth renewal of faith and love lying deep in each reader's heart.
"A portrait so moving and so eloquent I doubt it is paralleled elsewhere in literature. It is Caldwell's greatest novel!" -- Boston Herald
"Alive with the bustle of ancient times . . . Movingly reconstructs St. Luke's search for God." -- The New York Times
"Magnificent! Taylor Caldwell, who has splendid powers of narration, unleashes them all in this, her finest novel. She has made St. Luke a real and believable man and recreated on a vast
canvas the times and people of his day. You see as large as life all the glory and decadence of Rome and all the strife, turmoil and mysticism of Africa .... A glowing and passionate statement of belief!" --
Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985) was an internationally best-selling novelist in the mid-twentieth century whose numerous books sold over thirty million copies during her lifetime. Dear and
Glorious Physician is considered by many critics as her greatest work, and one that Caldwell said took her forty-six years to research and write.
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