We receive quite a few products to review, but one of our favorites is always from the inimitable Heirloom Audio. This time they sent us For The Temple, an audio adventure that takes us back to the time around the Fall of Jerusalem. I say “takes us back” as if we were there the first time. We weren’t, but by listening to any Heirloom Audio adventure, you feel like you’re there…specifically in For The Temple, back in 70 AD.
You’ve heard us rave about Heirloom Audio in the past, so we will just give a brief, nicely bulleted recap of what we enjoy about this high quality series:
- It’s a high quality series. You don’t ever wonder if a certain voice actor’s dad was the producer, if you know what I mean.
- Henty rocks! G.A. Henty (the author of the original books and the main “story teller” of the series), knew how to weave a good tale.
- It’s historically educational. As historical fiction, Henty works are probably one of the leaders in the homeschool world. They’re great options for giving a meal-size taste of a time period or enhancing a deeper study.
- The lessons are top notch. There is always a boy who reveals high character traits and grows throughout the story. Loyalty, courage, steadfast faith, friendship, and more are usually strong motivators in Henty stories and Heirloom productions, and For the Temple is no exception. Highly recommended for the values alone!
- Exciting. ‘Nuf said.
- The study guides. I’ll say more about that later.
Sounds good, eh? And the bullets–stellar.
For The Temple showed up as a two-CD set in a nice case which we promptly dropped, stepped on, and broke. Boo, us. But everything still works just wonderfully, including the broken case, so it’s all good, even for you fellow full-timers. The set encompasses roughly 2.5 hours of audio excitement.
Please understand, this is an audio drama, not just a reading. It has sound effects, music, voice actors–the works! It’s like one of those incredible burgers from In-n-Out or Freddies. Oh boy! The works!
And in case you’re wondering, the score is high quality. My family of musicians love it…much more than they love my singing! It’s by John Campbell and Daniel Philpott. Ring any bells?
The story can be summarized by the quote inside the CD case:
The time is coming when every Jew who can bear arms will be needed in the service of his country. Your hopes cannot stop it.
If you are a student of history (or even remember a few random word history dates), the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD probably rings a bell. It is the years leading up to this where our story begins, told by Mr. George who is–you guessed it–G.A. Henty himself. (He’s actually Brian Blessed, but let’s just pretend, shall we?)
John of Gamala intends to marry his fiancee and live a quiet life following in his father’s footsteps–viticulture is his chosen profession. (That’s fancy talk for running a vineyard.) Instead, he is influenced by historian and “rebel leader” Titus Flavius Josephus and takes an entirely different path–he joins the Jewish army and finds against Roman oppression. (That isn’t entirely different, if you consider the quantity of insects you battle in a vineyard.)
John believes it is every Jew’s duty to sacrifice his life to preserve the temple of Jerusalem if called on to do so. Ultimately, he does end up fighting to save the temple, both through words (negotiation) and action (battle). While he is not successful (not a spoiler, since you know the temple falls) he does…well…I can’t tell you that, because that would be a spoiler. Let’s just say he experiences confrontation, guerilla warfare, siege, slavery, and the judgment of God. It gets pretty intense at times particularly when he’s in hand-to-hand combat with a Roman general and when he has to choose between standing by his countrymen, who are desecrating the temple themselves, and defending what is right.
John learns about the Messiah through his experiences, thanks to an eyewitness encounter. And we get to watch Biblical prophesies unfold regarding the eminent destruction of the temple.
Throughout the story, the (currently unpopular) concept of duty to defend resounds. Isn’t that something we would love our children to embrace–duty to defend the defenseless, duty to defend truth, duty to defend character. Listeners will also hear about John’s bravery and loyalty, as well as his adherence to what is right.
While you think you know a topic, hearing it brought to life through an Heirloom Audio and studying even more through the study guide really…well…brings it to life. (How many times can I use that expression in one review? Seriously, get a thesaurus, girl!) I was blown away–sickened, in fact–by the number of Jews who were enslaved or killed (up to 500 crucifixions a day) during the siege of Jerusalem. It was also interesting to be reminded of prophecies that were fulfilled through the razing of Jerusalem. Another fascinating aspect of this (and each) Heirloom Henty adventure is how the lives of the fictional and non-fictional historical figures are intertwined, such as Josephus, Titus, and more. Additional information is added in the study guide to really bring these historical figures back to life (not literally, obviously) and to enlighten us as to the prophecies of Scripture and how some came to fulfillment as the nation turned its back on God and was subsequently decimated. (Alert, alert–life lesson, America!)
The study guide is ideal if you’re tying this into your history studies or if you have younger children needing additional guidance to understand the story. We try to use the study guide and limit our listening to small segments at a time, but inevitably, the study guide falls by the wayside some days as we listen to “just one more section” about 15 times. Ahem. Yes, the inmates sometimes run the asylum. I personally found the siege of Jerusalem map from the study guide to be helpful in picturing events in my mind. I also really appreciated the story background and additional reading near the end of the study. Apart from comprehension questions, discussion points, and vocabulary, there are also three Bible studies. My favorite, though, are the little sections set apart from the rest with additional information. It adds immensely to the comprehension and reality of the situation. It–wait for it–brings it to life.
We listen with all ages, because we are all in the van together during our driving and listening times. That said, there are some intense sections that might frighten your younger children or other sensitive kids. I know we have a couple who can’t get frightening or disturbing images out of their heads. Still the positive character traits learned in the story–loyalty, bravery, friendship, humility, and integrity–are beneficial for all ages. You decide! (We had a limited amount of time to listen to it between receiving the set and posting this review, but if we were to rewind time and do it again I would move more slowly and preview (pre-listen) for the younger children.)
Summary–if you’re going on a drive or you are studying this time in Christian or world history, I highly recommend Heirloom Audio’s For The Temple. It will enhance your knowledge of history and your and your children’s commitment to noble character traits. Taking it a step further with the study guide is always a good idea, in my opinion. It really “brings it to life.”