Ben Hur – Online Book

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a novel by Lew Wallace published on

First edition, first state of Ben-Hur: A Tale ...

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November 12, 1880 by Harper & Brothers.

The novel was a phenomenal best-seller, surpassing Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) as the best-selling American novel and retained this distinction until the 1936 publication of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Book sales then surpassed Gone with the Wind, following the release of the highly successful 1959 MGM film adaptation; the film winning eleven Academy Awards.[1] The book was the first work of fiction to be blessed by a Pope, receiving benediction from Pope Leo XIII.[2]

The story tells of the adventures of Judah Ben-Hur, Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 1st century. Ben-Hur’s childhood friend Messala arrives back home as an ambitious commanding officer of the Roman legions. They come to realize how much they have changed and now hold very different views and aspirations. During a military parade a brick falls from the roof of Judah’s house and barely misses the Roman governor. Although Messala knows that they are not guilty, he condemns the Ben-Hur family. Without trial, Judah is sent to work until death as a Roman galley slave, his mother and sister are thrown into prison and all the family property is confiscated. Through fate and good fortune, Judah survives and manages to return to Jerusalem, to seek revenge against his one-time friend and redeem his family. Running in parallel with Ben-Hur’s narrative is the unfolding story of Jesus,[3] who comes from the same region and is a similar age, mirroring themes of betrayal, conviction and redemption. Ben-Hur witnesses and is inspired by the rise of the Christ figure and his following who challenge Roman tyranny and talk of keys to a greater kingdom.

The name „Ben Hur” derives from the Hebrew for „Son of white linen”.

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