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A Review of By Far Euphrates: A Tale on Armenia in the 19th Century

The reader is rewarded with a volume that is educational, enduring and that enhances our understanding of the price many have paid for their Christian testimony.

  • Byron Snapp,
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After the death of his mother, young John Grayson travels with his wealthy father into Turkish-held Armenia. Shortly after they arrive, both are stricken with malaria, and John's father dies.

As he is nursed back to health by an Armenian family John learns of his plight. Now orphaned, he must survive without his father's baggage and important papers that their Syrian helpers stole when he died. As severe as John's situation is, he slowly learns of the far more severe plight of the Armenians.

The Turks treat these non-Moslems as they like without fear of retribution by the unjust courts or reprisal from the unarmed Armenians. The daughter of John's hosting family is in hiding because a Moslem official is pursuing her for marriage. Having no other place to hide, this daughter, Shushan, returns home knowing her action imperils the lives of her family who willingly keep her in hiding. Until John comes up with an alternative plan, her only escape seems to be her death by a family member.

John's plan takes him on a perilous journey to Urfa in search of the English consul. Proper documentation is needed from the Consul before this Englishman can marry the Armenian that he loves. In Urfa, John comes in contact with a number of individuals, including a missionary who oversees an orphanage who will become increasingly important as the story unfolds.

At the last moment the young man receives the coveted papers. He journeys home and the marriage occurs under the ominous cloud of the household's probable murder by Turkish hands. The only hope that Shushan be spared is her immediate flight with John to Urfa and the safety the orphanage provides. Little do they know the danger and deliverance in God's providence that awaits them there.

Throughout the story the author conveys an understanding of Armenian customs and the Turkish culture that was so oppressive to the Armenians. The account culminates with the events leading up to the Turkish massacre of Armenians in 1895, and the aftermath of their murderous plot. The reader can sense the dread, suffering, and death that the Armenians endured under their Moslem oppressors. Miss Alcock avoids gruesome descriptions of gore that marked these deaths. Yet she does not avoid gripping descriptions of strong faith in action as godly Armenians faced the trauma and trials that climaxed at times in their own torture and death or the death of loved ones. The reader is able to see growth in faith in the midst of grief and faithful and humble submission to God who does all things well.

Miss Alcock shows a commitment to historical and cultural accuracy. The reader is rewarded with a volume that is educational, enduring and that enhances our understanding of the price many have paid for their Christian testimony.

  • Byron Snapp

Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia.  He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina.  He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren. 

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