Donald Joiner, a Georgia native, is a veteran who served during the Korean War era. He is a retired public school superintendent who a lifetime student of history having once been a history teacher. He is a father and grandfather and has been married for fifty-two years. Before 'The Antioch Testament,' he authored two books about antebellum churches in Georgia. He's here today to chat about his book and his writing process.
About this book:
When The Antioch Testament opens, it’s 2004 during the insurgency in Iraq. An American army patrol manages to rescue a frightened group of Iraqi Christians fleeing Islamic militants. The refugees’ severely wounded leader, a priest, carries with him a mysterious bundle the group has brought with them from a northern Iraqi Christian monastery. As he clings to life, the priest insists on handing over the carefully-guarded package to the American army chaplain. When the bundle is unwrapped, Army chaplain Charles Monroe finds a large, scuffed, leather-bound ancient manuscript written in an unknown language. Fearing for the manuscript’s safety in war-torn Iraq, the chaplain arranges to have the manuscript sent to Augusta, Georgia, his hometown. Eventually, the manuscript winds up in an Eastern Orthodox monastery where internationally- recognized linguists begin the arduous task of interpreting it. What the linguists discover is absolutely astonishing: the manuscript is a first century AD testimonial in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, describing what happened to Jesus’ apostles after his Resurrection. But time is running out. Unbeknownst to the interpreters, a fanatical Iraqi insurgent organization is bound and determined to retrieve or destroy the ancient manuscript before its secrets can be revealed. Some secrets may be worth dying for—but these secrets might even be worth killing for.
Imaginative, inventive, and intriguing, The Antioch Testament explores the lives of the apostles after the resurrection. A thoughtful and thought-provoking page-turner, The Antioch Testament is a carefully-crafted page-turner with a pulse-pounding plot, and engrossing storyline.
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about 'The Antioch Testament,' and what compelled you to write it.
Donald Joiner:I’ve always been intrigued by the remarkable transformation that occurred among Jesus’ apostles after his Resurrection. The bible tells us that before that event they had a motley collection of fishermen, laborers, and revolutionaries seeking to drive out the hated Roman occupiers and the restoration of David’s earthly Jewish kingdom. The New Testament tells us quite a lot about them before the Resurrection, but very little afterward.
What happened to them? Where did they go? What did they accomplish? How did they die? From the fragmentary evidence left to us in early Christian traditions, I decided to tell the rest of the story. 'The Antioch Testament' is a work of historical fiction, but it is based on early church traditions.
M.C.: What is your book about?
D.J.: When the story begins, it’s 2004 during the height of the insurgency in Iraq. An American army patrol manages to rescue a frightened group of Iraqi Christians fleeing Islamic militants. The refugees’ severely wounded leader, a priest, carries with him a mysterious bundle the group brought with them from an ancient Christian monastery in northern Iraq. Barely clinging to life, the priest insists on handing over the carefully guarded bundle to an American chaplain stationed at the army base.
When the bundle is unwrapped, the chaplain finds a large, scuffed, leather-bound ancient manuscript written in an unknown language. Fearing for the manuscript’s safety in war-torn Iraq, the chaplain arranges to have the manuscript sent back to the states. Eventually, the manuscript winds up in an Eastern Orthodox monastery where internationally-recognized linguists begin the arduous task of translating it.
What the linguists discover is absolutely astonishing; the manuscript is a first century AD testimonial in ancient Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, describing what happened to Jesus’ apostles after his Resurrection. But time is running out. What the linguists do not know is that a fanatical Iraqi insurgent cell is bound and determined to retrieve or destroy the manuscript before its secrets can be revealed.
M.C.: What themes do you explore in 'The Antioch Testament'?
D.J.: A primary theme was to demonstrate the incredible sacrifices made by Jesus’ apostles in order to be obedient to his last command that they carry the Good News to the far corners of the world. Another theme was show the persistence of a severely wounded army chaplain to preserve the ancient manuscript, have it translated into modern English, and to share it with a largely disbelieving world.
M.C.: When do you feel the most creative?
D.J.: I am generally more creative in the mornings, but sometimes the mood strikes me to write all day.
M.C.: How picky are you with language?
D.J: I admire well- phrased language. Frequently in writing I’m stumped looking for the right word or phrase. I’ve been known to spend a lot of ‘down’ time waiting for language inspiration. Often I go back to my finished work and rewrite something that looks and sounds better. Perhaps that’s why it takes me so long to write!
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
D.J: When my pictorial history book, Faith of Our Fathers, was selected by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council for their 2014 award for local history advocacy.
M.C.: Is writing an obsession to you?
D.J.: No. Sometimes it is a pleasant experience, but other times it can be sheer drudgery.
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