Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Roman Empire

*Roman Empire. Caesar’s dominion, stretching from the River Thames in Britain to the Tiber in Italy to the Tigris in the Middle East, is the essential setting for Sholem Asch’s story of the expansion of Christ’s kingdom. A sense of place is as essential to the novel as it is to the New Testament, nine of whose books take their names from Roman cities.

*Jerusalem

*Jerusalem. With roots going back a millennium earlier than the novel’s period, Palestine’s City of David has just been acclaimed the “City of Christ” by Jesus’ followers. A three-way clash among the city’s Jews, Christians, and Romans ensues. Their three ways of life sharing one city are illustrated in Jewish synagogues, Christian congregations, and the Roman temple, as well as the homes of the disciples, schools, gardens, prisons, the stoning pit. The novel accurately reflects all these places, which are central to the Acts. Asch not only shows “three cities”—Jewish, Roman, and Christian—but he also ably indicates the unity of all persons of goodwill that transcends creed.

*Road to Damascus

*Road to Damascus. On the road to Damascus in Syria, Paul, the hero of The Apostle, is dramatically converted. The road is doubly symbolic: Christianity is the “religion of the way” and Paul’s life will be that of a pilgrim for Christ. The way takes him from his boyhood home of Tarsus,...

(The entire section is 531 words.)