Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ
In 1880, General Lew Wallace published his famous book, Ben Hur, a novel about the life of Judah Ben-Hur, that parallels the existence, times, and experiences of Christ. (WallBuilders recently posted a handwritten page from Lew Wallace with a portion of the race scene from that book.) In his Autobiography, Lew Wallace stated his reasons for writing books such as Ben Hur, declaring:
... I believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ; and that there may be no suspicion of haggling over the word "divinity," permission is besought to quote the preface of a little volume of mine, The Boyhood of Christ: "Should one ask of another, or wonder in himself, why I, who am neither minister of the Gospel, nor theologian, nor churchman, have presumed to write this book, it pleases me to answer him, respectfully - I wrote it to fix an impression distinctly in my mind. Asks he for the impression thus sought to be fixed in my mind, then I would be twice happy did he content himself with this answer - The Jesus Christ in whom I believe was, in all the stages of his life, a human being. His divinity was the Spirit within him, 'and the Spirit was God.'"Joseph Harper, one of the publishers of Ben Hur, stated that this was "A bold experiment to make Christ a hero that has been often tried and always failed." But this time, the experiment did not fail. The book sales began to soar, and by the end of the century (only 20 years later), it had sold more copies than other book that entire century.
It made such an impact on President Garfield that only a year after it was published, Garfield appointed Wallace as the U.S. Minister to Turkey. Lord Dufferin (a British Ambassador) told Wallace:
It is wonderful how you have interwoven the sacred elements of the story with the human interest, without producing any sense of incongruity, or wounding the reverential sensitiveness of the reader. . . . I can quite understand your having received the thanks of those whom you have aided to realize, more acutely than their own feeble imaginations enabled them to do, the heart-breaking incidents of the Crucifixion.In 1910, Lew Wallace's impact on America was commemorated as a statute of him became one of two statutes given to the United States Capitol by the State of Indiana.
As we celebrate this Easter season, let us celebrate God, family, and country. Let us remember the one who gave His all for us in an effort to bring us to Him; let us be grateful for the blessings that He has placed on our families and our country; and let us remember to continue in our efforts to serve Him in our daily lives.
Want to learn more about Lew Wallace? Check out A Spiritual Heritage Tour of the U.S. Capitol.