When I began thinking of writing a novel about the Apostle John, I discovered I had two things in common with the disciple. We were both avid fishermen, and we shared a desire to search for the Infinite—for the real meaning of life and where it was leading. This made writing the story much easier.
There are a multitude of legends about John, but I have used very few. Instead, I have drawn much of the story from scripture, principally the Gospel Of John. Essential to the story is the assumption that the beloved disciple is actually John, himself, as is the (unnamed) disciple in the episode about John the Baptist. In addition, I used some “spiritual imagination” or rather relied upon the leading of the Spirit.
I have used a number of Old and New Testament quotations and have italicized these passages; they are identified in the back of the book. Other New Testament segments are for the most part paraphrased as part of the story.
Scholarship is divided over the location of the Baptist’s initial preaching and baptizing. Some early writers such as Origen and Eusebius claimed that the location was Bethabara, a small town just north of the Dead Sea on the west bank of the Jordan. This town was still known at the time of Origen whereas Bethany across the Jordan had vanished. On the other hand, almost all of the earliest texts of John’s gospel read “Bethany across the Jordan,” (on the east bank). It is possible that this small village site was lost during the years, especially since the path of the river has changed. I have chosen Bethany on the east bank as I believe it to be most compatible with the early texts and with the narrative. It is, of course, not to be confused with Bethany near Jerusalem, the home of Lazarus.
Descriptions of the destruction of Jerusalem can be found in the writings of Josephus. The story of Domitian is based on The Life of Domitian
by Suetonius as published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1914. The narrative of John’s reclaiming the young bandit is based on a story in The History of the Church by Eusebius. The existence of the Roman penal colony on Patmos is well attested by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tacitus, all ancient writers. Other authors I read before writing the novel include Beth Moore, John MacArthur, Jerry B. Jenkins, Ellen Gunderson Traylor, John Robinson, James Byers, John Stott, Alan Culpepper, Barbara Green, Everett Aaron Edwards, Rodney A. Whitacre, and Mendel Nun. Also I feel I should mention the New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible. Its language is very clear and particularly meaningful to me.
R.C. Balfour III
John grew up in a strict Jewish family and became a fisherman in his father Zebedee's fleet. He had a strong, loving family and a bright future but felt something was missing in his life. When a mysterious desert preacher began baptizing pilgrims in the Jordan River, John left home, determined to begin his search for the truth—the Infinite. He became a disciple of John the Baptist, who pointed out the Coming One, Jesus, and instructed John to follow him. The gospel comes alive when seen through the eyes of John.
The miraculous and astounding acts and teachings of Jesus provided him a life filled with adventure and the fulfillment. John met a beautiful young girl, Deborah; they were immediately attracted to each other and she became an important part of John's life. The appellation, "Eagle" represents John's talent for seeking the truth, his amazing stamina, his evangelistic zeal, and his inspired writings which continue to bless generations. REVIEW
“R.C. Balfour’s novel about the life of the Apostle John is based on sound research as well as a deft ability to make the past come alive. It moves quickly from John’s days as a fisherman to his experiences with Jesus and ends with his writing of the Gospel that bears his name as well as his vision of the Apocalypse. I strongly recommend The Eagle Soars
to believers but more especially to those who have doubts but who want to know the truth.”
----- Odie B. Faulk Emeritus Professor of History