Told through the eyes of Hanina’s fictional son-in-law, the Greek shipping merchant, Archinas, this unique book chronicles the tumultuous events of the first century. Set in 10-110 CE, Hanina My Son records the emergence of Christianity; the bitter fighting between the Pharisees and Sadducees, Shammaites and Hillelites, Zealots and Roman oppressors; the establishment of the Sanhedrin; the development of Judaism’s Oral Law; the destruction of the First Jewish Temple and the subsequent rejuvenation of the Jewish spirit. Arguably, there has been no other time in history, until perhaps the 20th century, to have witnessed so many momentous events. Yet people lived and loved, prospered and suffered.
Hanina My Son is based on the Talmud (from which it includes a large number of dramatically presented passages), on Josephus Flavius and other Roman writers. However, told from a Jewish perspective, it is laden with ethical considerations, because the Hebrews viewed ethics – the essence of the commandments – to be strictly observed and cherished even at times of the greatest afflictions and deprivations.
Hanina’s son-in-law, Archinas, also has his own story to tell: how he converted to Judaism and fell in love with Hanina’s daughter, their wonderful marriage, and her death, which left him heartbroken. Now aged 99, he recounts his story, entwined with Hanina’s story and the story of the Jewish people, in this convincing and powerful literary feat.
Filled with famous personalities, such as Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Yohannan ben Zakai and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Haninya, whom Sanders recreates with impressive clarity and fervor, this docu-fiction is a fascinating journey for Jews, Christians and fans of the genre. It imparts a vivid sense of Jewish life in the pre-Mishnaic era – written with an intensity and zeal that brings Hanina and his counterparts to vibrant life.
“There are striking parallels, in the religious, political and economic spheres, between the events that took place some 2,000 years ago, and the events in modern Israel.” Cynthia Gasner, The Canadian Jewish News
“The book brings the reader through the stormy period (of the first century) in Israel and succeeds in creating the illusion that he describes real events…there is something similar in the troubling atmosphere (between their day and ours)…and Sanders describes this very well.” Tamar Hagar, Ma’ariv Literary Supplement
“Hanina My Son is a literary treasure…” Aviv Ekroni, Mozna’im