Deep Calling Deep — Carole Towriss
Today I’m happy to welcome author Carole Towriss as she shares about her book, Deep Calling Deep.
Last year about this time I was asked to join two other authors in The Psalm Series. Each book in this series is a fictional story inspired by a different Psalm and written by a different author. Included with the books are detailed Bible studies of the psalms covered, and an in-depth explanation of the author’s approach to the Scriptural text.
I decided to write about Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome. I searched the psalms looking for one that would fit the time period I’m writing in. As soon as I read Psalm 42, I knew I had found it. The up and down feelings of the psalmist seemed to perfectly represent what I imagine Paul and Timothy would experience during this turbulent time. When I discovered Sextus Burrus, I knew I had my story.
Sextus Afranius Burrus was a real man, the Prefect of the Praetorian Guard from 54 to 62 AD. By all accounts, he was a good man, honest and upright. Not much else is known about him.
The story is told from the points of view of Sextus and Timothy. Sextus, as he wrestles with the violence of Rome and the uselessness of the Roman gods, and Timothy as he smuggles with why God would allow Paul to suffer in this way.
About the Book
Praetorian Prefect Sextus Burrus has spent his life fighting for the glory of Rome, but that glory has lost its shine. As both his health and his career crumble, he is drawn toward the seemingly inexhaustible peace of one of his Jewish prisoners, the Apostle Paul. The moment Timothy hears his mentor and surrogate father Paul has been arrested, he rushes to Rome. Under the looming threat of execution, Timothy struggles to make sense of what is happening. Finally, an unexpected crisis requires him to reexamine everything, and places their hope for Paul’s freedom on the shoulders of Praetorian Prefect Sextus Burrus.
ALL three Psalm Series books will be on sale Feb. 6-12 for .99 cents.
About the Author:
An unapologetic Californian, Carole Towriss now lives just north of Washington, DC. She loves her husband, her four children, the beach, and tacos, though not always in that order. In addition to writing, she binge watches British crime dramas and does the dishes four times in one day.
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Carole-Towriss/e/B009ZVHM8I/
And when we came to Rome,
the centurion delivered the prisoners to the praetorian prefect,
but Paul was allowed to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
—Acts 28:16, JUB
Rome, seventh month, September, 61 AD
Praetorian Prefect Sextus Afranius Burrus had imagined the scene spread out before him, but his worst nightmares weren’t even close.
Lucius Secundus, the former city prefect, had been murdered by one of his slaves. Following an ancient law, the senators had called for the execution of all four hundred of the slaves who had worked for him.
The Praetorian Guards had been called out to quell the resulting riot.
The new city prefect and his cohortes urbanae were an astounding picture of Roman efficiency. All three cohorts, five hundred men each, gleefully took part in the bloody vengeance. Some of the urban guards pounded stakes into the ground along the Appian Way just outside the city’s walls. Others guarded the remaining slaves, and still others confiscated wood from anywhere they could find it.
Sextus had seen teams of soldiers leaving the Secundus estate. Apparently, they’d razed the slaves’ quarters, tearing down doorways and roof supports.
The all too familiar metallic scent of blood permeated the air. Sextus wiped sweat from his brow as he walked along the oldest of Rome’s wide stone and cement roads. Crosses of all shapes lined the highway on his right and left—crossbars at the top, the middle, wherever. The victims’ feet hung only a cubit or so above the ground, their anguished faces easier to see, their tormented cries easier to hear.
The Guards had started with the men. Obviously wanting to eliminate as much resistance as possible, the youngest and strongest were first to be nailed to the posts, staked at regular intervals along the Via Appia. Most of those had already been crucified by the time Sextus arrived.
The clanging of hammer against nail clashed with the screams of women watching husbands and sons writhe in agony. The noise grew so loud, Sextus’s ears hurt. He rolled his shoulders, trying to dull the pain as he trudged south.
The condemned waited in a loose grouping on the east side of the Via surrounded by armed and angry guards.
At the end of the seemingly endless line of limp bodies, Sextus halted. With his good hand, he shaded his eyes against the brutal midsummer sun, gazing south toward the nearby Alban Hills. The via continued all the way to Capua, rarely veering to left or right. Even when hills, rivers, or cities stood in the proposed path, Rome’s engineers barreled straight through.
Ancient pine trees lining the highway stretched toward the few wispy clouds above him, as if trying to rise above the slaughter. In the distance, family vineyards and peaceful villages dotted the landscape. If he kept walking, maybe he could reach one and forget this nightmare had never happened.
But he had responsibilities.
He clenched his fists and spun around to trudge back toward the city’s center, trying to shut out the detestable images, only to have them replaced with pictures even more gruesome.
A boy not old enough to shave trying to stop the guards from dragging his little sister away.
A mother desperately clinging to her newborn as one of Secundus’s avengers ripped him from her arms.
A toddler squirming so violently, the soldier trying to pin him to the wood gave up and unsheathed his dagger. Sextus tried to avert his eyes, but the horror compelled him to watch as the soldier nailed the lifeless body to the upright.
He was already dead, so what was the point?
To incite fear. Abject dread. To remind any who dared to go against the world dominating power that was Rome, that she would always win.
Back inside the walls, Sextus ensured his men had the desperate crowd firmly under control. Held back by Praetorians, both citizens and slaves lined the street leading from the Capena Arch to the city center; he avoided meeting their accusing eyes. His stomach roiled. His heart pounded. If he stayed inside the walls, maybe the angry cries from the crowd would drown out the shrieks from beyond them.
He’d seen more death than all the senators combined. So why was he the only one who seemed to be bothered by today’s slaughter? He’d served in the army since he was seventeen years old. More than forty years had passed since he’d first tasted combat. He’d been part of the deadliest battles, left entire villages bloody and burned, all in the name of the glory of Rome.
But no matter how hard he tried, today he found no glory in the death of innocents.