The Map by David Murrow is a work of fiction, but it’s not a novel.
We’ll it’s not JUST a novel.
Subtitled “The Way of All Great Men,” this book starts off as a fictional account of the author on a quest. He’s in Great Britain on a speaking tour when a stranger intrigues him with a tale of a long-lost map that is endued with the power to transform men from pasty-faced momma’s boys to holy he-men.
What follows is an engaging adventure with plenty of surprises, intrigues, nefarious characters, and action. The author borrows liberally from the approach of books like The Da Vinci Code, but it’s not too objectionable as he readily acknowledges the connection. Though the story telling can be a little ham-fisted at times, Murrow successfully captivated my interest as he unfolded his tale.
The story ends about half way through the book, when Murrow shifts gears, and explains his parable. The sought-after map, hidden away in the library of a Greek monastery, is revealed to be a Hebrew code woven into the fabric of the gospel of Matthew. In sense, Murrow postulates, the treasured wisdom required to empower Christian men has been hiding in plain sight all along.
To be honest, my intention has been to review only fiction. I personally benefit from allowing my pastors and other leaders to “review” books on theology. Their wisdom and discernment is a gift to the Church … one that I take advantage of regularly. But since The Map blended fiction and non-fiction, I’ll pass along my perspective on the truths being championed in it.
Murrow opines that the content of Matthew’s gospel was arranged thematically rather than chronologically. That position is not controversial, and has been communicated in a number of commentaries I’ve studied over the years. However, Murrow’s perspective on what Matthew intended to communicate by his arrangement seem somewhat novel.
The Map portrays the content of Matthew as being broken up into three sections … three journeys that men must travel, in succession, in their pursuit of greatness. Murrow’s three paths are called the Journey of Submission, the Journey of Strength, and the Journey of Sacrifice. A quick perusal of R.T. France’s study of this Gospel also revealed three sections, but the commentator describe them as The Person of Jesus Messiah; The Proclamation of Jesus Messiah; and The Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Messiah.
In many ways, The Map can be viewed as a sequel the Murrow’s book Why Men Hate Going to Church. He sees today’s Church as a feminized caricature of what God intended, which explains why so many men avoid church, and why those who do not are uninspired and unproductive. This perspective doesn’t parallel my experience of church life, but does seem to be a complaint that is being voiced often in American Christendom.
Bottom line for me on The Map: I enjoyed the tale provided in the first part of the book. Regarding the teaching in the latter section of the book, I agree with the value of submission, strength and sacrifice in the life of a mature believer. Count me as one who would like to see guys fully embracing the high calling of Biblical manhood. That said, I am not fully convinced that they are three distinct phases that must be experienced in order to have impact. As Murrow acknowledges himself, Jesus didn’t walk through the events of Matthew chronologically. Chances are that his followers won’t walk through these truths in order either.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”