A.D. 30 Abridged Edition

A Novella


By Ted Dekker

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New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker offers an exclusive, ebook original novella in this abridgment of A.D. 30, the epic historical novel about a woman who rises to lead her people after meeting Jesus.

Maviah, the outcast daughter of a powerful Arabian sheik, is called to protect the very people who rejected her. When enemies launch a sudden attack she escapes with the help of her father’s warriors. Their journey is fraught with danger and takes her to a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must form an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

But her path also leads her to Yeshua, who offers her a way of life more powerful than any kingdom. Though following him may present an even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people — and herself.


About This Book

This novella is an abridged version of A.D. 30, a full-length novel, also available where books are sold. The primary difference between the full novel and the novella, besides length and plot details, is the depth of cultural immersion.

My Journey into A.D. 30

It is said that true spirituality cannot be taught, it can only be learned, and it can only be learned through experience, which is actually story—all else is only hearsay. It is also said the shortest distance between a human being and the truth is a story. Surely this is why Jesus preferred to use stories.

For ten years, I dreamed of entering the life of Jesus through story, not as a Jew familiar with the customs of the day, but as an outsider, because we are all outsiders today. I wanted to hear his teaching and see his power. I wanted to know what he taught about how we should live; how we might rise above all the struggles that we all face in this life, not just in the next life after we die.

We all know what Jesus means for Christians on a doctrinal statement in terms of the next life, and we are eternally grateful. But we still live in this life. What was his Way for this life other than to accept his Way for the next life?

So I began by calling Jesus by the name he was called in his day, Yeshua, and I once again set out to discover his Way through the lens of a foreigner—a Bedouin woman who is cast out of her home deep in the Arabian desert by terrible tragedy. Her epic journey forces her to the land of Israel, where she encounters the radical teachings of Yeshua, which turn her world upside down.

As they did mine.

Although I grew up in the church and am very familiar with Christianity, what I discovered in Yeshua’s teachings staggered me. It was at once beautiful to the part of me that wanted to be set free from my own chains, and unnerving to the part of me that didn’t want to let go and follow the path to freedom in this life.

I grew up as the son of missionaries who left everything in the West to take the good news to a tribe of cannibals in Indonesia. My parents were heroes in all respects and taught me many wonderful things, not least among them all the virtues and values of the Christian life. What a beautiful example they showed me.

When I was six years old, they did what all missionaries did in that day and for which I offer them no blame: they sent me to a boarding school. There I found myself completely untethered and utterly alone. I wept that first night, terrified. I don’t remember the other nights because I have somehow blocked those painful memories, but my friends tell me that I cried myself to sleep for many months.

I felt abandoned. And I was only six. I was lost, like that small bird in the children’s book who wanders from creature to creature in the forest, asking each if she is his mother.

Are you my mother? Are you my father?

I see now that my entire life since has been one long search for my identity and for significance in this life, though I was secure in the next life.

As I grew older, all the polished answers I memorized in Sunday school seemed to fail me on one level or another, sometimes quite spectacularly. I began to see cracks in what had once seemed so simple.

I was supposed to have special power to love others and turn the other cheek and refrain from gossip and not judge. I was supposed to be a shining example, known by the world for my extravagant love, grace, and power in all respects. And yet, while I heard the rhetoric of others, I didn’t seem to have these powers myself.

During my teens, I was sure that it was uniquely my fault—I didn’t have enough faith, I needed to try harder and do better. Others seemed to have it all together, but I was a failure.

Can you relate?

Then I began to notice that everyone seemed to be in the same boat, beginning with those I knew the best. When my relationships challenged all of my notions of love, when disease came close to home, when friends turned on me, when I struggled to pay my bills, when life sucked me dry, I began to wonder where all the power to live life more abundantly had gone. Then I began to question whether or not it had ever really been there in the first place. Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t measure up.

So I pressed in harder with the hope of discovering God’s love. But I still couldn’t measure up.

And when I couldn’t measure up, I began to see with perfect clarity that those who claimed to live holy lives were just like me and only lied to themselves—a fact that was apparent to everyone but them. Did not Yeshua teach that jealousy and gossip and anxiousness and fear are just another kind of depravity? Did he not say that even to be angry with someone or call them a fool is the same as murder? Not just kind-of-sort-of, but really.

So then, we are all equally guilty, every day.

How, then, does one find and know peace and power in this life when surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses who only pretend to be clean by whitewashing their reputations while pointing fingers of judgment?

So many Christians today see a system that seems to have failed them. They have found the promises from their childhood to be suspect if not empty and so they are leaving in droves, causing leaders to scratch their heads.

What about you? You’re saved in the next life as a matter of sound doctrine, but do you often feel powerless and lost in this life?

Think of your life in a boat on the stormy seas. The dark skies block out the sun, the winds tear at your face, the angry waves rise to sweep you off your treasured boat and send you into a dark, watery grave. And so you cringe in fear as you cling to that boat, which you believe will save you from suffering.

But Yeshua is at peace. And when you cry out in fear, he rises and looks out at that storm, totally unconcerned.

Why are you afraid? he asks.

Has he gone mad? Does he not see the reason to fear? How could he ask such a question?

Unless what he sees and what you see are not the same.

Yeshua shows us a Way of being saved in the midst of all that we think threatens us on the dark seas of our lives here on earth.

When the storms of life rise and threaten to swamp you, can you quiet the waves? Can you leave that cherished boat behind and walk on the troubled waters, or do you cling to your boat like the rest of the world, certain that you will drown if you step on the deep, dark seas that surround you? Do you have the power to move mountains? Do you turn the other cheek, able to offer love and peace to those who strike you?

Are you anxious in your relationship or lack thereof? Are you concerned about your means of income, or your career, or your status? Do you fear for your children? Are you worried about what you will wear, or how others will view you in any respect? Do you secretly suspect that you can never quite measure up to what you think God or the world expects of you? That you are doomed to be a failure, always? Are you quick to point out the failures of others?

I was, though I didn’t see it in myself. As it turns out, it’s hard to see when your vision is blocked by planks of secret judgments and grievances against yourself and the world. It was in my writing of A.D. 30 that I discovered just how blind I was and still often am.

But Yeshua came to restore sight to the blind and set the captives free. The sight he offered was into the Father’s realm, which is brimming with light seen only through new vision. And in that light I began to glimpse the deep mystery of Yeshua’s Way, not only for the next life, but for this life.

His Way of being in this world is full of joy and gratefulness. A place where all burdens are light and each step sure. Contentment and peace rule the heart. A new power flows unrestricted.

But Yeshua’s Way is also opposite the way of the world, and as such, completely counterintuitive to any system of human logic. The body cannot see Yeshua’s Way for this life—true vision requires new eyes. The mind cannot understand it—true knowing requires a whole new operating system. This is why, as Yeshua predicted, very few even find his Way. It is said that nearly 70 percent of all Americans have accepted Jesus as savior at some point, but how many of us have found his Way for this life?

Yeshua’s Way is letting go of one world system to see and experience another—one that is closer than our own breath.

It is surrendering what we think we know about the Father so that we can truly know him, which is to experience him intimately, because this is living eternal life now. It is the great reversal of all that we think will give us significance and meaning in this life so that we can live with more peace and power than we have yet imagined.

In today’s vernacular, Yeshua’s Way is indeed the way of superheroes. In this sense, was he not the first superhero, and we now his apprentices, born of his blood, risen with him? Would we not rush to see and experience this truth about Yeshua, our Father, and ourselves?

In the Way of Yeshua we will bring peace to the storms of this life; we will walk on the troubled seas; we will not be bitten by the lies of snakes; we will move mountains that appear insurmountable; we will heal the sickness that has twisted our minds and bodies; we will be far more than conquerors through Yeshua, who is our true source of strength.

It is the Way of Yeshua for this life that I present in A.D. 30 and A.D. 33. Whenever we find ourselves blinded by our own grievances, judgments, and fears, we, like Maviah, sink into darkness. But when we trust Yeshua and his Way once again, we see the sun instead of the storm.

This is our revolution in Yeshua: to be free from the prisons that hold us captive. This is our healing: to see what few see. This is our resurrection: to rise from death with Yeshua as apprentices in the Way of the master.

So enter this story if you like and see if you can see what Maviah saw. It may change the way you understand and experience your Father, your master, yourself, and your world.

—Ted Dekker

All teachings spoken by Yeshua in A.D. 30 are his words from the gospels.

(See appendix.)


THE DESERT knows no years. Here time is marked by three things: the rising and the falling of the sun, to bless and curse with its fire. The coming of rain perhaps twice in the winter, if the gods are kind. And the dying of both young and old at the whim of those same gods.

This desert world is controlled by two kinds of people: the nomadic Bedouin, who roam the sands in vast scattered tribes, and the stationary nations ruled by kings and emperors. Two kinds, but all live and die by the same sword.

My infant son and I lived in the palace Marid where my father, the great sheikh Rami bin Malik, presided over the oasis of Dumah and all the trade routes that ran through it. Though I’d named my son after Rami, our very presence under his roof was intolerable to him.

Through no will of my own, I was his illegitimate child.

Through no will of my own, my mother died in childbirth.

Through no will of my own, my father sent me to Egypt as a slave so that his shame could not be known, for it is said that a shame unrevealed is two-thirds forgiven.

Through no will of my own, I was returned to Rami’s house when I gave birth to a son without a suitable husband. And here, under his reluctant protection, I once again found myself in exile. Indeed, the sheikh tolerated my presence only because his wife, Nasha, favored me.

Nasha alone was my savior. She alone loved me.

My father’s wife was not easily ignored, for she was the niece of King Aretas of Petra, ruler of the Nabataeans, who controlled the desert trade routes of our people. Truly, Father owed his great power to his alliance with King Aretas, which was sealed by his marriage to Nasha.

If any harm were to come to Nasha, my father’s power would surely be challenged and my life endangered once again, a truth that haunted me when she grew deathly ill and refused to recover, despite the wailing prayers of all the priests.

The night Nasha died I dreamed that I was wandering the wastelands of the Nafud, that merciless desert south of Dumah. My infant son and I were outcasts without a kingdom to save us, and the gods were too far above in the heavens to hear our cries. Soon my prayers were overcome by the mocking shrieks of ghouls hunting us. It was with these howls in my ear that I awoke, wet with sweat.

It took only a moment to realize that the ghastly wail came from the halls and not from the spirits in my dreams. I sat up, heart pounding, and knew I was hearing my father from a distant room. Nasha, surely!

I ran to her chambers, leaving little Rami sleeping soundly on his mat, his arms resting above his shaggy head, lost to the world and the sounds of agony.

I rushed into her room, and my gaze went straight to the bed. The woman who had sheltered me in my father’s house, the woman who was my only hope of security, lay on her back with her eyes closed and her mouth parted. Her lips were the pallor of burnt myrrh, gray and lifeless. No breath entered her. My world began to spin…

My father stood beside the bed with his back to me.

Here was the most powerful Bedu in northern Arabia, leader of the Kalb tribe and honored by many others, for his strength in battle and raids was feared by all. Like all great Bedu he was steeped in honor, which he would defend to the death. But here in Nasha’s chamber there was no sign of that man. Dressed only in his long nightshirt, hands tearing at his hair as he sobbed, Rami bin Malik raised clenched fists at the ceiling.

“Why?” he demanded.

Tears sprang to my eyes.

He hurled his accusations at the heavens. “Why have you cursed me with this death? You have cursed me with a thousand curses and trampled my heart with the hooves of a hundred thousand camels!”

He grabbed his shirt with both hands and tore it to expose his chest. “I, Rami bin Malik, who wanted only to live in honor, am cursed!”

I was torn between anguish and fear.


He spun to me, face wet with tears. For a moment he looked lost, and then rage darkened his eyes.

His trembling finger stretched toward me. “You have killed her! You and the whore who was your mother! And Aretas! And all of this cursed desert!”

I could not speak.

He shoved his hand toward Nasha’s body. “Her gods have conspired to ruin me. I curse them all. I curse Dushares and Al-Uzza. I spit on Quam. All have brought me calamity.” His face twisted with rage. “Six months! You have been here only six months and already the gods punish me.”

“I too loved Nasha…”

“Nasha? Nasha bewitched me in pleading I take you in. Today I curse Nasha and I curse the daughter who is not my own. Do you know what you have done? Aretas will now betray me. All that I have achieved is now in jeopardy for the pity I have taken on you, the shamed one.”

And so he made it clear. I lost my good sense.

“Your wife lies dead behind you and you think only of your own neck?” I blurted, face hot. “You curse your wife? You curse me?”

A voice came from behind me. “He can’t very well curse Aretas, can he?”

Fear cut through my heart as I spun toward the door. There in its frame stood Maliku, Rami’s only son by his first wife who was long dead. Even so early in the day, my lean half brother was dressed in rich blue with a showy black headdress. I saw no regret on his face, only a hint of smug satisfaction. I imagined his dark eyes to be empty wells, offering no life to the thirsty.

Maliku’s stare shifted from Nasha and found me. His arm lashed out like a viper’s strike. The back of his hand landed a stinging blow to my cheek.

I staggered, biting back the pain.

“She must take her bastard son and offer herself to the desert,” he said to our father. “We must place blame for all to see.”

My father might have punished him for his tone, but already Maliku was powerful in the eyes of many. Truly, Rami courted a threat in his own home.

But my father was blind when it came to his son, Maliku.

“Only three days have passed since our clans and allied tribes left the great fair,” he said. “Maliku, you will seek them out with ten of our best men. Tell them to return to Dumah immediately. And say no word of Nasha’s death.”

I could see Maliku’s mind turning behind his dark eyes.

My own thoughts whirled. King Aretas would strip Rami of Dumah and give his alliance to another Bedu sheikh as soon he learned of Nasha’s passing. Which one?

The answer was plain: Saman, leader of the Thamud to the east. The Thamud had long been our bitter enemy, restrained only by the might of Aretas. If the king removed his hand, Rami would need every ally by his side.

“It will take more than three days to reach them and return,” Maliku said.

“They will be traveling slowly, fat from the feasts. Take the fastest camels. Let them die sprinting if you must. Return to me in three days’ time with all of the men.”

My brother’s face darkened.

Rami turned and walked to the window overlooking Dumah.

“Bring me every man who would save us from the Thamud jackals who circle to cut me down.”

“And what of this curse in our house?” Maliku said, shoving his chin at me.

My father turned his back. “We will decide when you return.”

I understood, and trembled. To have been cast out into the Nafud might have been a better fate.


THE PALACE in Dumah was like a tomb. Maliku had gone to find the Kalb, and Rami had taken up residence in his tent just outside of Dumah with five hundred of his closest men. Nasha’s sweet voice whispered to me only in my dreams.

Late on the second day after Nasha’s passing I stood at a window in Rami’s chamber of audience, looking to the eastern horizon as I stroked my sleeping son’s cheek, cherishing the heat of his small body against mine. In his world there was no knowledge of death. But here, we seemed to breathe it.

I saw the dust then, a silent line of boiling sand stretching across the eastern flat as far as I could see. A storm, I thought.

Then I saw a speck leading that line. And I knew that I wasn’t seeing a storm at all. I was seeing a single camel followed by an army of camels. Far too many to be the Kalb clans and our tribal allies that Maliku was sent for. Those would have come from all directions.

But this came from the east. This was the Thamud. Saman bin Shariqat was coming to Dumah.


Panicked, I quickly laid my son on the mat and rushed back to the window. I was unable to move as I stared at the scope of that army.

A call from the eastern slope caught my ear. Rami’s lookouts had seen. Their shout was taken up by hundreds as the warning spread throughout Dumah. His men, mounted on horseback, raced toward the trees at the edge of the oasis.

A thousand Thamud camels thundered over the crest toward the date palms. The beasts carried men armed with sword and bow and ax and lance. Then more came, flying the yellow-and-red banners of their tribe, flowing like the muddy waters of the great Nile in Egypt.

How had they gathered so swiftly?


Only my brother could have made the hard day’s ride, delivered word of Nasha’s death to our enemy, and returned with them to crush my father so quickly.

It stood to reason. If the Thamud crushed Rami and his tribe of Kalb here in Dumah, the Thamud would give Maliku power as the new leader of the Kalb. His sword would enforce his power among his own people in alliance with the Thamud.

I watched as a camel carrying two riders—one facing forward with reins and one facing backward with full use of his hands—galloped across the slope’s open sand. The Thamud archer slung arrows into the palm trees one after the other without pause.

A single arrow embedded itself in that warrior’s neck, and he toppled unceremoniously from the camel’s hump to land in a heap, grasping frantically at the wound. His body went still within moments. A thrill of triumph coursed through my veins.

And yet he was only one among far too many.

Little Rami began to cry and I gathered him back into my arms, heart in my throat.

“You’re safe, Rami. Hush, hush…your mother’s here. You’re safe.”

I could hear far more than I could see, for camels are noisy creatures. Their roars reverberated through the city. Shrill battle cries from a thousand Thamud throats accompanied them. The punctuating sounds of men and beasts in the throes of death pierced my heart.

I barred the door to the room, closed the shutter, rested my back against the wall, and slid to my seat, uttering a prayer to Isis, who had always failed to listen but might yet, even now.

It was the first time I’d witnessed war. In Egypt I’d seen many fight hand to hand with blade or mace or hammer or net, though mostly in training, for my master traded in warriors who fought in an arena for Rome. A brutal business. Johnin, the father of my son, had been among the best, and he had shown me how to defend myself.

I could hear the sounds of battle as they moved deeper into the city, closer to me. They ebbed and flowed and at times fell off entirely, and when they did, I would turn my head, listening for stretching silence, hoping against hope.

But then another cry would sound, and the roaring of more camels, and the wailing of another slain. Thamud, I prayed. May the Thamud all drown in their own blood.

Night came before silence finally settled over the city. Even then I expected yet another cry. Instead a desperate pounding on the door shattered the stillness.


The voice of my father. I laid my sleeping son between two pillows and ran to the door.

“Hurry, Maviah, there’s no time!”

I lifted the board and drew the door wide. My father rushed in, shoved the door closed, and dropped the timber back into its slot.

He wore only a bloody shirt and loose pants shredded along one leg. His face too was red with blood, and his hands sticky with it. A long gash lay along his right arm.

“Listen to me!” He grasped my arm and pulled me away from the door. “There’s no time, you have to listen carefully.”

He withdrew his dagger from its ornate sheath and held the blade out to show me an unmistakable seal. Above the image of an eagle etched into the metalwork near the hilt was a circle with a V and a Latin inscription, which I could plainly read. Publius Quinctilius Varus.

In Egypt, as a slave groomed for high service in a Roman house, I had been educated, mostly in the ways of language. By the time I had my first blood, in addition to Arabic I could speak Latin, the language of the Romans; Aramaic, the trade language of Nabataean empire and the common language in Judea; and Greek.

Until this moment my education had displeased my father.

“It is very important that you do exactly what I say. You must swear it to me!”

“Yes! Yes, of course.”

“Swear it by your god!”

“Under Isis, I swear it.”

He took a deliberate breath. “This dagger bears the seal of Varus, a once-powerful Roman governor. You must take this seal to Herod Antipas, the Jewish king in Sepphoris.”

I was unable to comprehend this command.

“Take it to Herod and tell him we can give Rome direct control of the eastern trade route. The Kalb will be a friend to Rome. Tell him we can give Dumah to Rome!”

“Herod of the Jews?” I heard myself say, dumbfounded.

“Herod is Rome’s puppet.”

“He is married to the daughter of King Aretas!” I said. My head was spinning with the consequence of this. “Nasha’s cousin!”

If Rami heard me, he gave no sign. “With this dagger, he will give you audience with Rome.”

I was stunned by the notion of approaching a king on Rami’s behalf. It struck me as something ordered in a nightmare.

“You must send another! I am a woman—”

“I must send my blood, but Maliku has betrayed me and heaped shame upon the Kalb! Within our walls only the women and children live. I must remain here. I must call the clans to avenge ourselves and return honor to the name of all Kalb!”

My father saw my fear and took my hand, pressing the weapon into my palm. He wrapped my fingers around the dagger. “Go to the cave where the eagle perches, north. Saba and Judah have prepared and will take you to Judea. You know this cave?”

“Yes.” I knew of the men as well. Two of Rami’s greatest warriors. The mention of their names gave me the smallest amount of courage.

“They wait for you now.”

I had to do as he said, for I was his daughter and slave to his honor. But I could not speak.

“You are the daughter of Rami bin Malik, honored of Varus. You are educated and speak the language of the Romans. I will protect your son, who is now my own—”

A thunderous blow sounded at the door and we spun as one. Rami invoked the name of Wadd under his breath.

Then another blow, louder still, shaking the wood to the frame. There was no escape but through that door, because the window was high above the street.

On the third strike, the wooden slat snapped in two and the door flew open. There in its frame stood a scowling warrior dressed in the black fringed thobe of the Thamud. Three more stepped past him, one wearing a red-and-yellow headcloth bound by a black agal. By the kaffiyeh’s pattern and the boldness in his eyes, I knew that this man was Saman bin Shariqat, leader of the Thamud.


  • "The reigning king of Christian thrillers...kicks down the door of biblical fiction."—Publishers Weekly on A.D. 30
  • "[A.D. 30] showcases the New York Times best-selling author's gift for immersing readers in ancient settings, believable characters, and high-octane story lines."—Library Journal, starred review on A.D. 30
  • "A rich and engaging tale that captivates readers from the first page. The depth of insight and development into characters is outstanding....This is a must read."—RT Book Reviews, top pick, on A.D. 30
  • "This is the kind of book the term 'sweeping epic' was made for."—Booklist on A.D. 30
  • "Dekker makes the spiritual real...descriptions of the Nafud's dangers--think Lawrence of Arabia--are powerfully done, as are his portrayals of the perils posed by the clashing customs of Arabs, Jews and Romans."—Kirkus Reviews on A.D. 30
  • "[A.D. 30] may be a genre unto itself: part historical fiction, part spiritual self-help."—New York Times on A.D. 30
  • "An enjoyable read...Maviah's journey to redemption was very engaging and left me eager for the next installment."—Jennifer Fleming, CBA Retailers and Resources, on A.D. 30

On Sale
Aug 4, 2015
Page Count
160 pages
Center Street

Ted Dekker

About the Author

TED DEKKER is a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels with a total of more than 10 million books in print. He is known for thrillers that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil.

Learn more about this author