The Begotten (The Gifted Series, Book 1)

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9780425215609: The Begotten (The Gifted Series, Book 1)

At the height of the Inquisition, a secret half a millennium old is about to be exposed-a lost letter said to have been written by Paul and part of what was to become the foundation of the Christian canon. It speaks of men and women-the Gifted-with mysterious spiritual gifts that struck fear in the heart of the Church. Now the letter has surfaced. The Gifted ones are coming together. Their prophecy is coming true.

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About the Author:

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning, bestselling author of Refuge, God Gave Us You, and The Captain's Bride. She is president and co-founder of Good Books & Company, which sells Christian books and gifts via home shows.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

 

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

CHAPTER FORTY

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

 

readers guide for

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Chapter One

Look for the other books in the Gifted series!

Praise for The Begotten

“A full-bodied, absorbing tale that combines authentic historical detail with a universally appealing and gripping story that will have readers cheering on the Gifted as they race against time to decipher ancient prophecy and save the world from darkness. With crossover appeal for J.R.R. Tolkien and Madeleine L’Engle enthusiasts, this is recommended for all.”—Library Journal

“Bergren’s experience as a Christian historical-fiction author serves her well in this religious thriller, the first of a trilogy set in fourteenth-century Italy . . . [a] classic battle between good and evil.”—Publishers Weekly

“Mysteries and miracles abound in The Begotten, a fourteenth-century Italian thriller with a fascinating cast of characters. The tender heart of Daria, the beautiful healer, gives the story emotional depth, while all around her spiritual and physical battles are waged between light and dark, life and death. The Begotten is the very definition of a page-turner.”

—Liz Curtis Higgs, bestselling author of Grace in Thine Eyes

 

“Never has a novel been more timely than Lisa T. Bergren’s The Begotten. While other books are distorting history and scriptural truth almost beyond recognition, Bergren has given us an amazing story—one that proposes a fantastic ‘what if?’ and remains true to the Spirit of God as well as medieval times. A wonderful read!”

—Angela Hunt, author of Magdalene

 

“Masterfully crafted from the heart of a modern-day word-artist, The Begotten will transport you to a world of medieval Italian mystery where truth and beauty break through the darkness and lead the way on a trail of wonder.”

—Robin Jones Gunn, author of Gardenias for Breakfast

 

“An exhilarating religious historical thriller . . . delightful . . . action-packed . . . superb.”—Midwest Book Review

Titles by Lisa T. Bergren

Novels of the Gifted

 

THE BEGOTTEN
THE BETRAYED

 

 

 

 

THE BRIDE
CHRISTMAS EVERY MORNING
THE CAPTAIN’S BRIDE
DEEP HARBOR
MIDNIGHT SUN

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third party websites or their content.

 

Copyright © 2006 by Lisa T. Bergren.

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

 

All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the
author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
BERKLEY® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

 

 

eISBN : 978-1-101-01065-5

 

 

eISBN : 978-1-101-01065-5

1. Bible. N.T. Epistles of Paul—Fiction. 2. Paul, the Apostle, Saint—Fiction. I. Title.

 


PS3552.E71938B44 2006
813’.54—dc22 2006009545

 

 

 

To Darren and Sarah, fellow travelers and seekers of the Word.
We are blessed by your friendship.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My heartfelt thanks to my husband, Tim, my kids, my agent, Steve Laube, and my preliminary readers: Sarah Shonts, Pastor Bob Rognlien, Randy Ingermanson, Kathy Boyles, Alicia Miller, Pastor John and Hope Bergren, and Cheryl Crawford. Tim, Steve, Bob, Randy and Erik Wirsing, helped me hone my original concept for the series. Bill Myers spent an hour on the phone with me at the start, showing me how to do the research I needed in frightening, uncharted waters, by turning me back toward the rock-steady, grounding influence of Scripture; I was constantly thankful that I was surrounded by friends and family who prayed for me while I researched and wrote this project. Many laypeople allowed me to interview them in depth, prying and probing to find out more about their unique spiritual gifting; all preferred to remain anonymous but I acknowledge here that they helped me in innumerable ways. Piero Boeri, a ninety-year-old Italian I met on a plane from Montana, helped me with Italian via e-mail, and delighted me so much that I used both of his names for characters in this book.

I am also thankful for our tour guides, Dr. Caspar Pearson of ContextRome and Michael of Venicescapes. Thanks to my parents, who watched our kids, and my business partner, Rebecca, who let me leave my real job, so we could see some of these sites in Italy with our own eyes. The academic research librarians of AskColorado were very helpful, as were the local librarians of Colorado Springs. My editor, Denise Silvestro, her assistant, Katie Day, and the wonderful copyeditor, Amy Schneider, made substantial improvements upon the book. All errors that may still be contained within these pages are, of course, my own. Last but not least, my heartfelt thanks to Joel Fotinos, Leslie Gelbman, Lara Robbins, Craig Burke, Chris Mosley, Norman Lidofsky, and the rest of the sales force, the Noble Group, the pros at B&B Media, and everyone on the Berkley team.

Dear Reader,

 

A few facts to know before you join me on this adventure . . .

In the fourth century, church officials came together in Constantinople and agreed on common doctrine and works of the Holy Canon—those works deemed legitimate and worthy of being included in the Bible we know today. As had become custom, many books were reviewed and then set aside, due to questionable authorship or potential heresy. Heretical teachings were discussed and condemned.

Despite the fact that Saint Paul references earlier and other letters sent to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9; 1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Cor. 10:10-11), no biblical historian has ever seen these work(s) and no further record or reference has been found to date. But they clearly existed.

In the eighth century, the Iconoclast movement gained momentum and ultimate power in the Eastern Church. Iconoclasts were vehemently against any graven images, including illumination—the ancient art of illustrating, gilding, and beautifying the Holy Scriptures along the margin and sometimes in the midst of the text. Some illuminists claimed to be divinely inspired, often adding illustrations that could be interpreted by only them. Others claimed they were prophetic. Thousands of books and manuscripts representing centuries of work were burned in the eighth century, and illuminists who refused to turn away from their craft were put to death. In Italy, the Western Church clung to the belief that icons were holy and blessed, something to be exalted rather than eradicated. Many illuminists made their way to Italy and beyond in that era to escape persecution or demolition of their works.

Join me in the eighth century now.

 

—Lisa T. Bergren

PROLOGUE

Constantinople

The Year of Our Lord 731

“THIS way, Your Grace,” whispered a monk ahead of him, gesturing toward a room bathed in shadows.

Bishop Claudiopolis Thomas turned the corner and paused a moment in the doorway, sensing everyone hesitating around him, neatly echoing the hesitation he felt inside. Before him, laid out on a table, with dusty streams of dusk light streaming through a narrow window and onto its pages, was the script.

The bishop willed his feet to move forward, but dread rushed through him like an inner robe slipping over his shoulders and down to his feet. What was this task before him? What evil laid in his midst?

Hiding a hard swallow behind a cough, he lifted his chin and placed one slippered foot before him. Monks moved to either side like the Red Sea before Moses. They were nothing, these men in drab gray robes who sought nothing of significance for themselves or their Lord. Mice, really. Rodents, feeding upon a molding cheese of the devil . . . If it weren’t for men like himself, watching out for the children of God, they would all be swept away to Hades.

Reaching the front of the lambskin-covered manuscript, he nodded to his assistant. Taking a fabric-tipped stick from his robes, the plebe opened the cover of the book and turned to the first page. Touching it with his fingers would surely mean eternal damnation. The plebe carefully averted his eyes, looking not to the page, but to his master for guidance.

The bishop stared at the first page with hard eyes, praying for the will to withstand its siren call to admire, appreciate, draw him in. For Thy will, Lord Jesus! he cried silently. For You alone, must I do this task! Traveling the length of his emperor’s territory, searching out the heretical works alongside other Iconoclasts, was becoming a burden almost too great to bear. He had burned paintings and ordered sculptures destroyed. Like golden calves in the temple . . . Now he had been called to seek out the illuminated manuscripts and cleanse the Word of God from graven images. This was his final task, his final endeavor.

He nodded, directing the plebe to turn another page. His knees and trembling hands threatened to betray him. Even a godly master like himself could feel the devil’s temptation drawing him in. Could they all not sense it? The weak pope, Gregory III, had led them down this path . . . taught them to venerate the icons instead of cast them away. This script must be destroyed, along with its creator! The monk refused to recant, refused to change his ways. What choice did that leave the bishop?

“Your Grace,” said a man from the dark corner, taking a tentative step forward. “I never allowed the evil one to enter these hallowed halls. My work . . . my work was meant as an act of worship. My paintings were divinely inspired.”

The bishop stared hard at the man, and at the pubescent, dark-haired boy to his side, slightly behind the monk. A student in training, perhaps? The heresy already grew tentacles. He returned his eyes to the book, nodding toward the plebe. “Go to another section, please.” The book was a complete Bible script, encompassing five or more years of work in a scriptorium. If only there had not been images, the careful, perfect writing could have been preserved for other students of Christ. But the artist had blasphemed the Holy, created work that could not have been divinely inspired unless it was for the dark lord and not his own.

Licking his lips, Thomas nodded once more. The plebe turned to yet another section, and Thomas sucked in his breath. He fought off a wave of dizziness, tried to clear his throat to speak.

The abbot rushed to his side. “Your Grace! Are you all right?”

Thomas could do nothing but stare at the Latin words at the top of the page. “You have blessed this project, man?”

The abbot, sweating now, stared down at what the bishop was reading. Slowly, he lifted his hand to his mouth and whispered, “Deus Misereatur. There must be some mistake.”

“I can explain,” said the priest behind them.

The bishop, never turning, raised one hand, fingers splayed. “We will not hear further words from a heretic. There is no way you can explain including an uncanonized letter in the Holy Writ.”

The bishop dared to lean closer and read a few more lines. The cardinal would wish to know about this. Specifics.

A letter of a man masquerading as Paul, to the Corinthians, but not the first or second holy letters. A strange letter with haunting words. The bishop swallowed hard. He could not allow himself to be sucked in. He mustn’t read heresy. The lies had a way of entering one’s head and feeding upon a man’s thoughts until it became truth. Abyssus abyssum invocat . . . Abyssus abyssum invocat! Hell calls to hell!

He glanced at the plebe, hoping the boy did not see the sweat upon his upper lip. Thomas refused to brush it off. “A bit more, please. I must know the breadth of heresy contained here.”

Along the margin of a perfectly lettered page, was a gilt-enhanced painting of a woman, dark hair curling in lush tendrils along her neck, finger teasing at the nape, olive-shaped eyes of a seductress. . . .

“Goddess worship!” the bishop cried, slamming the bedamned book shut. If it hadn’...

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