I read this book as part of the Challies reading challenge for 2017. Go search for it if you’re unaware of it, it’s a great thing for book lovers. Quo Vadis is historical fiction at its best. This is a thrilling historical novel with strong biblical strokes.
It takes place in Rome during the 60 A.D. The main character is Vinicius, a young Roman patrician who falls in love with the Christian girl Lygia. When you know whats gonna happen historically the question is whats gonna happen to the main characters. Vinicius is drawn to the Christian faith because of Lygia and will eventually become Christian. But he will still struggle with his earlier life as Roman patrician. Emperor Nero is a autocratic demagog that goes deeper and deeper into madness. These character arcs is one of the greatest strengths of this book.
We get to see different struggles and tensions within the church but also we get to see the gospel proclaimed in ancient Rome. Vinicius eventually get to meet both Peter and Paul. Their lines are in big parts based on what they say in the Bible in the gospels and letters. For example as Paul is taken to be executed he rejoices to have finished his race. Before we get to know the Christians we get to see them from Roman perspective with all the myths and prejudices surrounding the early church. But eventually Vinicius will end upp thinking:
“What kind of God is this, what kind of religion is this, and what kind of people are these?”
Nero -the ruler of the world- tries to annihilate the church. But he dies and the church lives on. This becomes the climax of the book.
“And so Nero passed, as a whirlwind, as a storm, as a fire, as war or death passes; but the church of Jesus Christ rules until now, from that city, every city, and throughout the world, for all eternity.”
The book gets a solid 10/10