Book Review: THE MANTLE (1976)

T H E  M A N T L E
by William H. Stephens
Published by Tyndale, 1976

POSITIVE ELEMENT
Princess Jezebel, being dearly loved by her father, King Ethbaal of Phoenica, could have any man she wants. But she was responsible enough to put aside her wants just so she could serve her nation by marrying King Ahab.

Elijah’s faithfulness and courage to keep on following the One True God despite all the persecutions and doubts. His singleness of mind was truly amazing as well. When he decided to go to the wilderness alone and without food, he kept on going even when his own body was complaining.

Elisha’s resolve to follow his master wherever the latter goes.

SPIRITUAL CONTENT
The book effectively tells a griping story between the forces of good and evil. It clearly depicts the contrasting practices between the worship of Melkart and Ashera (Phoenicia’s baals) and the worship of Yahweh.

SEXUAL CONTENT
A priest of Yaweh had an encounter with one of Asherah’s zonahs. Worship of Melkart and Asherah often requires human sacrifices, copulation in the fields (to bless the harves), and orgies in the temples with the zonahs (sacred prostitutes). A woman was raped by Asherah’s priest even though it was only 3 days ago since she had given birth to a son.

VIOLENT CONTENT
Infants being sacrificed to the baals. Priests of Melkart and Asherah cutting themselves until blood shot out of their veins, while they are screaming and their bodies twitching and gyrating. Elijah’s slaying the 450 false prophets until the brook Kishon itself flowed brown-red.

CRUDE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE
None.

DRUG & ALCOHOL CONTENT
Wines were served as customary in their culture.

CONCLUSION
Elijah, just like any other human beings, constantly troubled himself with unnecessary doubtings. Yet he was truly faithful in following Yahweh always reminding himself that his “confidence is stronger than his doubt.” His ultimate mission in life was the purification of Israel from baal worship. The great prophet hoped that the victory in Mt. Carmel would stop all baal worship, but it did not happen and he got so depress that he asked God to take his life. At first he could not understand why God, Who can command fire to come out of heaven, would choose to move people by using a still, small voice.

My favorite part of this book is when Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah was fierce and bold because of his confidence in God. Elisha always admired this spirit. I’m certain that Elisha knew what he was asking for. Elijah’s life was often lonely and difficult with the constant travel and threat of death, but he was comforted and protected by God. For Elisha, life in God’s hand is all that matters.

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