A Priest and a Rabbi Walk Into a Book

January 30, 2013 | By

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Isaac Frankel’s recently-released first novel, Sacred Apples, fascinatingly explores the intersection of Judaism,Christianity, and Islam—both in Jerusalem, where the plot unfolds, and beyond. With some lines taken directly from the Bible and the Talmud, and the rest matching their high, formal tone, the novel’s language evokes Jerusalem’s religious atmosphere and heritage. The story follows a young Catholic priest, Father Joseph, and, through his friendships and acquaintances, a religiously diverse cast of characters.

One of the most poignant of these relationships is between Father Joseph and a Haredi rabbi living in the orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Mea Shearim. The two pursue a friendship (despite their communities’ harsh disapproval), and it is ultimately their trust and faith in people, regardless of religious background, that brings about a somewhat miraculous turn of events that saves Father Joseph’s life.

Frankel, himself an observant Jew who regularly visits a monastery in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, creates characters whose complex relationships with each other illustrate the value of being open to the wisdom of religious traditions other than one’s own.

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Interested? You can buy Sacred Apples here.

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