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Elizabeth George Spear’s novel The Bronze Bow features a number of significant settings. In general terms, the novel is set in Roman-occupied Judaea during the time of Jesus (first century C.E.). The youthful protagonist, Daniel Bar Jamin, is specifically described in the book’s opening paragraphs as a Galilean:
A proud race, the Galileans, violent and restless, unreconciled that Palestine was a conquered nation, refus[ed] to acknowledge as their lord the Emperor Tiberius in far-off Rome.
This very early sentence already implies the crucial role that setting will play in this novel. The book is set during a time and place of great cultural and religious conflict, and so the stage is already set in the very first paragraph for descriptions of such conflict in this book.
Other paragraphs early in the book refer not simply to Palestine in general but to specific places in Palestine and to specific geographical features, including a “valley,” “terraces of olive trees,” “thickets of oleander,” and a “brown, mud-roofed town.” Spear thus goes out of her way, in the early pages of the book, to suggest that setting will be important in this book and also to create a vivid sense of setting by using highly precise imagery. She describes a kind of landscape that will seem unusual and even somewhat exotic to many of her young readers, a great many of whom are residents of modern cities and suburbs.
Various significant places mentioned in the book include Ketzah, the village of Daniel’s youth; Capernaum, where Joel’s family plan to move; Nazareth, the home of Jesus; a mountain; a watchtower; a shop; a synagogue; Jerusalem; a temple; the Lake of Merom; and numerous other places. By emphasizing and describing such places, Spear makes her book historically credible while not neglecting to emphasize the trans-historical significance of the events and characters (especially Jesus) she depicts.
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