Set in the ancient Mediterranean the narrator and protagonist is Kleitos, a Hellenized Jew who eventually finds himself exiled to the Aegean island of Patmos where he encounters one, Yohanan, (John) another imperial exile. The man is a fanatic, engaged in writing a long letter in code to the seven urban communities of Asia Minor. This is the acknowledged content of Revelation, the Biblical book which historians have long realized is allegory, cipher and an amalgam of apocalyptic literature, reflecting the political and social upheavals of the 1st century C.E. that saw the rise of Christianity. Not a book for Christian conservatives, it explores the ways in which doctrines were shaped at this time especially in the Revelation, still mistakenly considered by millions as some form of prophetic handbook to a future slipping towards cosmic conclusion.
Norman Maclean grew up in and around Missoula, Montana, where he worked in logging camps and for the US Forest Service. He attended Dartmouth College and taught English for forty-six years at the University of Chicago. He began writing A River Runs Through It in his seventies at the request of his children.