Bo Giertz (1905-1998) was a confessional, orthodox Lutheran bishop in the Church of Sweden. He was also a notable novelist. Many of you have doubtless read Hammer of God, about three generations of pastors, each facing the various challenges to the Gospel of each era. That novel has been a life-changer for many readers.
Now, at long last, another Giertz novel has been translated into English, The Knights of Rhodes.
It’s a historical novel about the Knights Hospitaller and the siege of Rhodes. The Hospitallers started as a hospital order–which remained a part of their ministry–but they became a military order during the Crusades. Think monks–complete with vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, as well as performing the daily liturgies–plus swords and cannons. This novel is set in the 16th century, with the knights in their formidable citadel on the island of Rhodes having to face the Turkish empire under the young sultan Suleiman, beginning his plan to conquer Europe.
The characters come alive and stay in the mind. The battle sequences are thrilling. The spiritual complexities are fascinating.
The Knights of Rhodes is not as pre-occupied with theological issues as Hammer of God, at least not on the surface. And yet, even this story of Roman Catholic monastic knights is full of what Luther was preaching about the same time as the Turkish invasion. The characters have piety of various kinds, but in a climate of sin, violence, betrayals, and the competition of a triumphant Islam, they need to discover Jesus and the Theology of the Cross.
Not only all of this, but the translator is our own Bror Erickson, frequent commenter on this blog. Let’s give it the Amazon bomb treatment, buying it up and advancing its sales ranking (currently in the 800,000s) to attract other people’s attention to it.
I do have one complaint: Doesn’t Wipf & Stock have any copyeditors or proofreaders? There are typos and other mistakes on every page. (Bror, insist on a new edition! If you need someone to do the copyediting, I’ll do it. The book deserves that.)
Anyway, you can buy it by clicking the links.