(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

At the start of Dear and Glorious Physician, the child Lucanus looks at his father’s hands, covered with scars from his years of servitude before he was freed from slavery by Diodorus’s father. Lucanus decides that he loves his father despite his prideful attempts to forget his former lowly status. Meanwhile, the lonely Diodorus is in need of a companion with whom he can discuss philosophy. He grew up with Iris, the mother of Lucanus, and remains in love with her despite his happy marriage to Aurelia, the mother of his sickly daughter, Rubria. One evening he comes across Lucanus praying for Rubria in the garden. He is fascinated by the boy’s quick intelligence and mature demeanor and especially impressed when he tells Diodorus that he prays to the unknown God, who is kind and loving unlike the vengeful Roman gods. Lucanus gives Diodorus herbs for his daughter, and Diodorus decides to send him to Alexandria to attend medical school when he is older.

From the beginning, the physician Keptah realizes that Lucanus is an exceptional student. While gazing on a star from the east one evening, they share their common love of the unknown God. One day the young man Lucanus accompanies Keptah to a temple, where the Magi predict Lucanus will live a life of deep sorrow. Lucanus suffers terribly after Rubria dies, and he begins to hate God. However, he cannot deny his gift as a healer and comes to defy God by saving his people’s lives in the study of medicine. After Diodorus’s wife Aurelia dies in premature childbirth, he miraculously saves the infant’s life. Diodorus returns from Rome, asks Iris to marry him, and adopts Lucanus.

At medical school in Alexandria, Lucanus cannot reconcile how God can inflict pain on mortals and not offer them consolation in the form...

(The entire section is 734 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Detweiler, Robert. Uncivil Rites: American Fiction, Religion, and the Public Sphere. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1996. Scholarly analysis that demonstrates how religious works influence American society and culture, especially during times or crisis and war. Includes a discussion of Caldwell’s Dear and Glorious Physician.

Jasper, David. The Sacred Desert: Religion, Literature, Art, and Culture. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2004. Engages the works of various authors to explore the depth of spiritual meaning in works of literature, film, and art.

Stearn, Jess. In Search of Taylor Caldwell. New York: Stein and Day, 1981. Deals with reincarnation and past-life regression. Caldwell starts out a skeptic but under hypnosis recalls past lives that explain the psychic revelations from which many of her books originate, including Dear and Glorious Physician.