“A.D. 30” by Ted Dekker

AD30A few years ago someone recommended I read a novel by Ted Dekker. I forget which one it was but I couldn’t finish it. Then a month ago someone suggested I read his latest book, AD 30, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a masterpiece!

AD 30 is exactly the sort of book I wish I was good enough to write. It’s an historical novel that follows the trials and travels of an outcast woman as she seeks to save the very people who have rejected her. It’s a gutsy book because one of the characters in it is Jesus, or Yeshua in this story, and anytime you write fiction about the Lord you run a risk of upsetting readers. But Dekker pulls it off with ease.

Maviah, the Bedouin woman at the heart of the story, is at the very bottom of the ladder. She’s an illegitimate daughter, a slave, and a foreigner. She’s despised and abused by powerful people wherever she goes. In short, she is exactly the sort of person Jesus came for (see Luke 4:18).

AD 30 works at many levels. It provides a rich insight into cultures that existed on the borders of Jewish society at the time of Christ. It’s peopled with characters we know – Herod, Nicodemus, Stephen – along with other notable historical figures. It’s full of brilliant “what if?” scenarios such as what if you happened to be in a boat on Lake Galilee when Jesus stilled the storm?

But the best thing about AD 30 is that it’s a story of radical grace and transformation. It’s a tale of how the love of our heavenly Father can elevate the lowest of the low.

In some ways AD 30 is a clever, if fictitious, complement to the gospel accounts. If Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give us the high points of Christ’s life and ministry, Dekker gives us the imagined scenes that might have gone on in the background.

The woman who touched the hem of Christ’s garment, for instance, is given a name and a backstory. Sure, it’s all made up, but the magic of AD 30 is in putting us in the crowd when the miracle took place. Dekker makes the words of the Bible come alive. By giving us the smells and sounds of the Galilean countryside, he adds detail to the lightly-sketched scenes of the gospels.

Then there is the whole Bedouin aspect to the story which I found intriguing. In one memorable scene Maviah and her companions are shown generous hospitality by members of an enemy tribe. When the fickle politics of the moment intersect the ancient rules governing honor, the outcome is fascinating.

I hope they make this novel into a movie. If they do then I will look for the scene where Maviah the outcast meets the Lord of grace. Their first encounter is subtly done – there are no dramatic fireworks – but the effect on Maviah is as life-changing as you’d expect.

There are only two things in this book I didn’t like. In the opening chapters something awful happens to Maviah’s child. It’s essential to the story but this father found it hard to read. There is evil in this world and Dekker portrays it well. You feel Maviah’s pain and it is gut-wrenching. (Yet it’s mild by Dekker’s standards. If his other recent novel Outlaw scores a nine out of ten for vicarious pain inflicted on the reader, AD 30 rates a six.)

The other thing I didn’t like about the story is that I have to wait until later this year, when the sequel AD 33 comes out, to find out what happens to Maviah. However, if that book is as good as this one, it will be worth the wait.

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14 Comments on “A.D. 30” by Ted Dekker

  1. Starla Ellison // February 24, 2015 at 2:07 am // Reply

    I loved this book. I cannot handle any other of his books but I just happened to download the audio to listen to- a little voice inside said, “Just give it a chance.” I am SO glad I did!

    I thought his comments before the book was- fantastic. A grace story, for sure!

  2. Ellie Marshall // February 24, 2015 at 2:30 am // Reply

    Thank you Paul will down load it , sounds great

  3. I agree Paul; I am listening to AD 30, the audio book presently and really enjoy it. Yes there are a few places where it’s a bit harsh, but this is life, especially for Maviah. Can’t wait for her to meet Jesus!

  4. I’m listening to AD 30 audio book…really enjoy it. Can’t wait for Maviah to meet Jesus!

  5. sounds interesting,anything that deepens or gives insight into knowing him is always good

  6. Becky Johnson // February 24, 2015 at 4:55 am // Reply

    I’ve never read any of his books, but this intrigues me. I remember telling my dad, a pastor and deep theological lover of the Word of God, or as I call it, the Bible. And I was telling him a story Beth Moore had told many years ago. The setting is before the foundations of the world when God the Father speaks to Jesus the Son and says, “Are you ready? The minute I speak this into existence, you’re as good as dead.” The story has stuck with me. It opens up a dialogue not written in the story of Genesis, but takes some blinders off that help me see an aspect of the story I couldn’t before. But my dad’s remark was how that story took great liberty with the Word. Hmmm. Okay. But it also took great liberty in my heart, too. Loosening what was bound. Freeing what was chained. Because, as the story goes, Jesus was ready. He said, in effect, “Yes, Father. I am ready.”

    And so this book with it’s fictitious background stories of the infamous stories we know, might be the next thing I need to read. Thanks, Paul.

    • Sometimes the awesome revelations (insight, you could say) that come through Beth Moore leave me gobsmacked and staggering. God is truly amazing, especially when you give yourself to him. Would that the Lord would do the same through us. Though the account may be technically conjecture, it really presents us with another angle of view that opens up much that we failed to realise.

      • Becky Johnson // February 25, 2015 at 9:42 am //

        “Though the account may be technically conjecture, it really presents us with another angle of view that opens up much that we failed to realise.”


      • Judah emory // March 4, 2015 at 4:52 pm //

        I need to buy this and read it. thanks for showing me paul

  7. ahh Ted Dekkerv is my favorite fiction author. Gonna have to check this book out.

  8. Thank you for the recommendation. I look forward to reading it.

  9. Christchurch bookstores do not seem to have it in stock, so will order it from the book depository. Cheaper anyway. Thanks for the recommendation, been wanting a good bedtime book. 🙂

  10. Chris Hampton // March 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm // Reply

    Sounds intriguing, and not the kind of thing I would normally read; however, I’ll be on the lookout for it per your recommendation. Thank you! Chris Hampton

  11. My husband isn’t a “reader,” purchased the audio book and loves it. I’m a Dekker fan, he introduced his readers to Tosca Lee (Book of Mortals) and just finished Iscariot (recommend). Thanks, CWW

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