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From Bondage to Freedom

By Emma Leslie
Salem Ridge Press

4263 Salem Drive
Emmaus, PA 18049

From Bondage to Freedom is a fascinating work of historical fiction by Emma Leslie, originally published by the Religious Tract Society in 1877 and newly republished by Salem Ridge Press in 2007. Subtitled "A Tale of the Times of Mohammed," the story begins in a Syrian market in the year AD 594 and follows the lives of two Christian women who are sold as slaves to a young merchant named Mohammed. Eventually, Lollia is sold to a Roman lady and taken back to Rome, while Amina travels with Mohammed to Mecca.

As the story progresses, both women encounter challenges to their faith. In Rome, Lollia struggles with Bishop Gregory's new doctrine of purgatory. In Saudi Arabia, Amina watches as Mohammed declares himself the prophet of God and gathers to himself faithful followers. Several Christian sects are also encountered, such the Arians, Nestorians, Jacobites, Ebionites, and Marianites. Each woman must weigh what she knows of the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ against works-based religion.

From Bondage to Freedom would be an excellent literary supplement to a study of the early Middle Ages. Leslie's writing style reminds me of Henty, another Victorian author, in the way she infuses an exciting and well-written story with vivid descriptions and interesting explanations of history, beliefs, and customs. The dialogue is full of "thee's" and "thou's," which I love, but some may find it a bit stilted. The publishers recommend the book for ages 12 and up, and I would agree.

I found the account of Mohammed's gradual transition from humble merchant to proud prophet particularly interesting because it implicates Christians who "muddied up" the pure gospel as Mohammed rose to the leadership of one of the most significant world religions.

Leslie was a devout Christian whose Protestant conviction shines through her story. In our modern age, our children need to understand the Islamic religion in order to effectively witness for Christ as well as to understand history. From Bondage to Freedom makes a great starting place for such a study. Highly recommended!

Product review by Heather Jackowitz, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, January 2008

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