Melvin J. Cobb
Here are a few comments and reviews on Vessel of Honor
A historical feast is laid out Vessel of Honor. The reader may select from early Christian church history, early Christian history in Africa, early African political history, etc. There is no lack of interesting events.
Vessel of Honor is an interesting read. With text-book like elements covered with a sprinkling of story, it would be an excellent supplement to Home-schoolers, religious students, Pastors, or anyone teaching about the Christian faith, or wanting an example of Christ’s ultimate place in our lives. Sahlin learns Jesus can’t be just Lord of one part of our life (like just our personal life,) He must be given reign over every aspect of our life - business, family, and relationships. That is a struggle we still face.
Reviewed by Linda Mae Baldwin for The Road to Romance
March 3, 2004
Great book!, July 30, 2004
We've needed something like this for a long time! This book is thought provoking and reads like a cross between a historical drama and a textbook. It brought to life an ancient African culture to such a degree that I felt as if I had actually visited that part of the world. The characters were real and complex and helped bring the culture to life. The map and glossary really helped!
A wonderful Christian Experience, June 15, 2004
Reviewer: A reader
A story that is wonderfully told about the Christian experience as a whole. Cobb takes you right into the lives of African believers who must reconcile the struggle between the Spirit of Christ living within them and the pagan culture surrounding them. Can't wait for the next one Melvin.
Black History & Historical Christian Fiction, April 28, 2004
Reviewer: A reader
If you love reading Historical Christian Fiction novels, such as Francine Rivers, you will love reading this book. The author’s descriptives in the book make you really feel like you are there and able to see every detail. His characters are real in their struggle to walk out their new life in Christ and leave the old behind. If you wonder what it must have been like to be a new believer in Africa after the resurrection of Christ, this is the book for you!
In the book of Acts, there is a brief and enigmatic story of the deacon Philip encountering an Ethiopian man on the road. Under the Holy Spirit's direction, Philip witnesses to him, and the Ethiopian is baptized. That's it. That's all the Bible says.
Like so many intriguing moments in God's Word, you can't help but wonder, "what happened next?" Melvin J. Cobb has decided to answer the question with this novel.
Vessel of Honor tells the story of Sahlin Malae, chamberlain to the queen of the Ethiopian kingdom of Meroe. Returning to his homeland after his encounter with Philip, he finds his new faith to be a wonderful thing, but also a hindrance to returning to his life as it was. Sahlin sees the consequences of the life he lived as the ruthless royal treasurer. He wrestles against the Spirit's leading and begins to turn things around, but is it too late? Already, the land is split by civil war, plots, counter-plots and devious conspiracies. Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, the leaders of the church consider the importance of sending someone else as a missionary to Ethiopia to aid Sahlin in his spiritual growth.
The depth of this story is at times daunting. Keeping track of the unfamiliar place names and a host of characters can be difficult. In that regard, it resembles an epic fantasy novel (but only because of my own familiarity with the history involved). Of course, that's as far as the comparison goes. There are no other "fantastic" elements here (other than Philip's vanishing after the baptism as recorded in Acts).
Despite the complexity of the tale, the primary characters are well developed, including Sahlin and those closest to him. Also of note are Dikembul and his daughter Annika - Jewish Nubians who find themselves deeply involved in the riddle of this Jesus who claimed to be the Messiah. Do they split from the Jewish group, and form a new "church," even though that will make them an even tinier minority? Their struggle reflects what probably took place in many cultures as Christianity began to take root throughout the world.
Sahlin's story, however, is the main one, and it leads to many interesting side plots and thoughts. As his own queen lays dying, he knows the battle for succession could lead to anarchy or violent civil war. Various factions are plotting to take control, using every method possible. How can a new Christian decide what is right or wrong in such a situation? How does he know whom to trust, when no one believes as he does?
At times, the complexity does overwhelm you, leading to some serious confusion in places. Who's plotting what? Who was this again? There are also some places where the story tends to drag a bit. It seems like it could have been much shorter.
At the same time, it seems like it could have been much longer. The book ends right as the real story seems to begin. I have no idea if the author plans more books, but it certainly leaves things wide open for a sequel.
Despite its flaws, Vessel of Honor is a fine story answering one of those great "what happened next?" questions from the Bible. Recommended.