How do you approach history? Whether it is through books, field trips, text books, or some combination of them all, audio productions can add a significant conversation to the topic. Heirloom Audio has created a series of productions based on the GA Henty novels. Their most recent production, For The Temple, is a wonderful retelling of the Henty novel by the same name about the fall of Jerusalem during the Roman occupation of the Jewish lands.
This 2 CD set provides over 2 hours worth of story time. It features all the wonderful audio story-telling elements of a movie without the video portion. The vocal talents of folks like Brian Blessed, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Joseph Reed, Sophia Oxenham and 15 or 20 others create a fast-paced storyline that propels the listener into the setting of about 65 AD in the region of Galilee.
John is the son of a vintner (grape grower and wine producer) in the area of the Sea of Galilee. He is about 16 at the start of the story. His family is raising a younger girl, Mary, who is 14. Mary and John are promised to each other and this plays into many decisions made in the story. They are growing and learning together. During a storm while the two are out on the Sea of Galilee, they are caught unawares and in danger. They are rescued by Josephus, the Jewish governor in the Roman controlled area.
Josephus is doing all he can to stay true to the Jews while peace-keeping with the Romans. His efforts fail and Rome invades the area. Josephus asks John to join him as he is impressed with John’s calmness during the storm. John does and they are caught in the siege of a walled city, Jotapata. When all around him are being killed, John was able to escape with a young boy named Jonas who had helped him prepare.
They made their way back to John’s home but he realizes that there is much to be done in fighting Rome. Particularly when he understands that they will head for Jerusalem, that the Holy City for the Jews is the main place they desire. John gathers a group around him to harass Rome through unusual tactics, knowing that face to face combat will not be helpful but only result in many deaths.
The biggest issue, however, is not Rome. It is the way the Jewish factions are fighting each other, looking to control and hold the power over everyone. They are killing each other and anyone who speaks against them. It is worst in Jerusalem, where not only are the factions causing issues, but they have imprisoned and killed much of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews, and are using the temple as a stronghold. The people in Jerusalem are hurting, scared, and starving. And Rome marches on towards them.
John ends up in an unusual position where he can almost ensure the safety of the temple in Jerusalem. Eliciting a promise from the Roman general Titus to do all in his power to save the temple, John pushes on with his band of followers, just in case, in the “first duty of every Jew, to protect the temple.”
For The Temple is a fabulous story that brings history to life. I know that can be said of every Heirloom Audio production and this one is no different. The setting allowed me to learn much more about the time frame approaching the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. I knew quite a bit about Rome but this taught me much more. Rome’s power was overwhelming. When you hear the numbers of men, women, and children who were killed as Rome marched towards Jerusalem, it is hard to comprehend. It is hard to understand that they would intentionally starve the people in the cities during the sieges and then murder anyone they came across after they entered the city. That kind of hatred and heartlessness is so difficult to understand. Yet, it is part of the history.
Knowing how hard people fought to protect the temple and Jerusalem brings another perspective to the history of that city and area.
G.A. Henty was an amazing writer and these stories are adaptations of his work. There is quite a bit changed in the audio production but it doesn’t necessarily make the story better or worse, just different. I would highly suggest reading the Henty novel, though. It really give a lot more detail about the way Rome approached Jerusalem and the way the people were affected. This is just one more way to expand the learning in relation to this audio production.
We took one morning to just sit and listen. The girls and I all got something to do with our hands, put on the CD, and enjoyed the story. I gave them some background prior to starting the CD, knowing that it would help them understand the setting and the people. I had already read the novel and listened to the CDs so I could prepare them a little bit. As we listened, we stopped once in a while and read some of the questions from the study guide or discussed what was happening. There were a few times when questions were asked and we took some time to talk about things such as who Josephus was, why the factions were fighting each other, and how the Romans fought. A couple of times, I did have to stop and explain what was happening. We also talked about the themes of loyalty and extending grace rather than humiliation that run through the story.
At the end, one of the girls asked if the story in the novel had ended like the audio production because it seemed somewhat abrupt to her. I told her that there were some definite changes to that part of the story and explained how the novel ended. Knowing the story ahead of time really helped me guide the girls through the story.
We absolutely enjoyed For The Temple. One of the lines towards the end is worth repeating:
History can certainly challenge us to look at what we believe.
STUDY GUIDE –
Heirloom Audio sent us an email that included a study guide that was about 40 pages in length. It follows the tracks on the CDs, making it easy to correlate learning. Each track has vocabulary words, some questions that just help to guide listening and follow the story, and then some additional questions that really make you think a bit deeper. There are also several small sections that are about different topics that will help you understand better. Some examples of these topics include the food of the region, Sabbath and Shabbat, and some information about Vespasian.
The end of the study guide includes three specific Bible study topics. These Bible studies are on No Other Savior, Proper Worship, and Christ Our Temple. These each have several statements to dig deeper into and Bible verses to support each of those statements.
GIRLS’ THOUGHTS –
Each of the girls had the same statement when asked about their favorite character – Mary! Spunky, sweet Mary starts the story at age 14 and informally betrothed to John. We see her grow and change, becoming a woman who understands her duty and the duty of the man she loves. She learns to become a wise young woman who works hard and prays hard. She retains her spunk throughout the story. She is a good role model, well, except for where she pushes the boat out onto the water after being told not to. But, that is something for you to experience when you listen to the Heirloom Audio production of For The Temple.
Lori, At Home
Looking for more Heirloom Audio? Here are their other productions (links go to my blog reviews).
- Under Drake’s Flag
- The Dragon and the Raven
- Captain Bailey’s Heir
- The Cat of Bubastes
- With Lee In Virginia
- Wulf the Saxon
- In The Reign of Terror
- Beric the Briton
- In Freedom’s Cause
- St. Bartholomew’s Eve