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The Silver Chalice

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  3,323 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
The Silver Chalice is an English language historical novel by Thomas B. Costain. It's the fictional story of the making of a silver chalice to hold the Holy Grail (itself here conflated with the Holy Chalice) & includes 1st century biblical & historical figures: Luke, Peter, Joseph of Arimathea, Simon Magus & his companion Helena. The story was inspired by the ...more
Hardcover, 503 pages
Published December 1st 1954 by Doubleday Books (Garden City, NY) (first published 1952)
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Basil, the son of a poor seller of pens and ink is adopted by a rich merchant in Antioch. The young man is a gifted sculptor and silversmith. Upon the merchant's death, his evil uncle steals his patrimony and sells him into slavery. The book follows his meeting early Christians and at the behest of Joseph of Arimathea [sp.?] he fashions a silver frame for the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper. Basil travels from Antioch to Ephesus then Rome to sculpt the faces of the apostles, which, ...more
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this book until I went to a homeschool bookstore and saw it on the shelves. The back said something about it being a classic, and that immediately caught my attention.

The entire book reminded me of Ben-Hur, just at a later time period. It is set quite a few years after the death of Jesus on the cross, and tells the story of a young man named Basil. He, just like Ben-Hur, is sold as a slave and looses his house, lands, and properties. One thing that Basil does have is an amaz
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great HF first published in 1952 and set in the first century chronicling the rise and spread of the Christian faith. In order to tell a more authentic story, Costain uses real characters such as Joseph of Arimithea, Luke, Peter and other Apostles as well as Nero.

Basil, the main character, is legally adopted into a wealthy family but when the father dies, his position is usurped by his uncle and he is sold into slavery. Luke finds him as he is a prodigy sculptor and buys him out of sla
Jan Brooks
Glad I had a couple of snowy days to push hard through this book. Read it as part of a challenge--this particular challenge was to read a book that was on the best-seller list on the year that you were born. The idea is to see what the world was like that you were born into.
The Silver Chalice is historical fiction about a gifted slave who was tapped to create a chalice for the cup that Christ had used at the Last Supper. So much information about the times--the apostles are aging men facing pers
L.  (You're No Science-Terrorist!)
Despite a long and valiant battle to at least reach the middle, I've decided it is no longer worth my time to bother with this book. I don't care about any of the characters. I don't care what's going on. I just don't care. It's time to move on and tackle a more entertaining story.
Josephine (Jo)
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
A lovely old book which tells the fictional story of what became of the cup used by Jesus at the last supper. A young boy named Basil is sold into slavery after the death of his rich adoptive father and he is apprenticed to a silversmith. Basil has a great gift for art which he is not allowed to use whilst working for the silversmith, having to churn out basic items ordered by customers, but as he learns the trade and how to handle silver his gift becomes known. In a round about way Joseph of Ar ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Came across this book in a family library, and what a delightful and timely-read! Right before the holidays! I really enjoyed reading about the Apostles of Christ, especially how Luke was depicted, and the way the time-period was so brought to life. Makes it so much easier to understand, visualize and remember.

Especially, I was struck by how Christian philosophies differed from those around them, as we get to read of Basil's conversion. How her realizes that "turning the other cheek" (for a seco
Susan Stell
Jul 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Silver Chalice is a fictional, but historical novel written around the "making" of the "Silver Chalice," which some people interchange with the "Holy Grail." This novel includes some biblical characters such as the apostle Peter, Luke, etc., but also historical characters, and the time period is shortly after the death of Jesus.

The story depicts a young man, Basil, who at one time was wealthy, but is sold into slavery by an evil uncle who robs him of his freedom, wealth and all hope for the
Michael Del Camp
This was a great book I read from my Grandmother's library as a kid. The book is about life in the times contemporaneous with the life of Jesus Christ, from the point of view of those around him, particularly Joseph of Arimathea, a rich elder of the era, who donated his own stone hewn tomb for Jesus' burial after crucified execution, that death from which Jesus arose three days hence. I enjoyed this book tremendously, and recommend it highly. In fact, this author has other titles I never got aro ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book, which I freely recommend to friends and family. It is interesting in its fictionalization of the post-Resurrection depiction of Christ's apostles and followers. Of course, we may all use our imaginations to flesh out these men (and women) from scriptural reading, but it is fun to read Costain's take on these people. The plot is shifty enough to keep us caring about the main characters and their strivings to better both their temporal and spiritual selves. If you like Th ...more
Sep 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book that taught me about everyday life during the time of the apostles. Even though it was largely through fiction, I learned about the difficulties of transitioning from pre-Christ followers-Jews-to the "new law" of Christianity. It also brought a desire in me to be artistically creative, even though my fruits were poor, the spirit of it was great! The love story was good as well!
Emily Hope
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful book! It was written 50 years before the DaVinci Code and was also about the beginnings of Christianity. Also like the DaVinci Code it was on the best seller list for multiple years. I read both books in the same summer and it is interesting to see the changing standards of popularity in the world. I really loved this book and would recommend it to anyone.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book over and over again and just recently found it in a still unpacked pile of books and read it immediately. I love historical fiction and fiction about the early Church is pretty cool.
Hanzel Harry Fernandez
Wow! Reading this book was a great experience. Its story line, the characters, everything makes you so indulged in them that you forget about your outside world. The narration is quite excellent. A must Read One!
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me and my sweetie stumbled across this author while exploring a used book sale. His stuff is out of print now but what yummy reading! I love this kind of literature. You get lost in the richness of the words, descriptions, etc.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015
Read this when I was 13. Re-read it out of curiosity, didn"t remember any of it.
Terry Tschann Skelton
Read this as a teen. I loved it then!
Natalie Wong
I want to rate this book higher because it is so well researched, and brings part of the new testament to life. But I had an immensely hard time getting through it. It's not a tough read at all (although standing at 840 pages), the writing is simple and the story straight forward enough. But the way the writing is done (very descriptive) leaves no room for imagination and interpretation and I was, frankly, bored. If I weren't compulsive about finishing books I start I would have dropped it half ...more
P.S. Winn
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone who knows religion is curious about the Holy Grail. This story uses Biblical ideas along with fiction to examine the making of a silver chalice. I found the story interesting and thought provoking.
Janet Williams
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Local silversmith has slave who's work is admired by aristocrats.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basil, a slave in first-century Antioch, follows a path from poverty to artisan (with many steps in between) in Thomas B. Costain’s novel, The Silver Chalice. Along the way we see the nascence of Christianity as readers meet Luke, Joseph of Arimathea, Peter, Paul, and many fictional characters who are following this new faith based on the life, teachings, and death/resurrection this rabbi now called the Christ.

The narrative of this novel turns on an art commission by the early church leaders. T
Clare D' Lune
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan Franks
I want to give this book 5 stars for the story but only 3 stars because of several theological disagreements I have with the text. I'm settling for 4 stars.

Overall, it is a wonderful story set in the early first century after Christ's death. The simple plot line is this: Joseph of Arimathea has hidden away the cup Jesus used during the Last Supper. His dying wish is that someone create a silver casing for it so that it can be preserved always.

Enter Basil.

Basil is a talented Greek sculptor. He i
Mark Curry
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mark
If you are interested in the "historical" story of early Christianity and its relationship to the Jewish religion (Zealots) and to the Romans (Nero), that is not too heavy in doctrinal myths, you'll like this. It's a classic, really, and in a fictional historical narrative charts the actions of early converts along with an historical view of Luke, Peter, Joseph of Arimathea, Simon Magus, and the hypothetical story of a silver chalice built to preserve the cup presumably used by Christ at the Las ...more
Paula Dembeck
This is an historical novel set in Israel and parts of the Roman Empire shortly after the death of Jesus.
Basil is a young boy who has been adopted by a wealthy man, but when Basil’s father dies, he loses his fortune. His Uncle claims he was bought as a slave and therefore sells him. Basil survives by working as a craftsman and silversmith. When Basil becomes a free man and a Christian, he is asked by Joseph of Arimathea to create a silver covering to hold the simple cup Christ used to drink his
Katherine Meyer
I enjoyed this book. A lot of research clearly went into it, and it was very interesting to read the details of life in the era of Nero. That said, I didn't find the writing style to be particularly compelling. It seemed like typical popular historical fiction. The lead character was well-drawn, but the supporting characters were mostly a faceless jumble. I would have liked to see more development of the female characters, although I have a hard time taking teenage romance seriously, so I probab ...more
Martie Nees Record
It started off with a bang but went out with a whimper. The novel takes place shortly after the death of Jesus. The story follows a young man, Basil, who was illegally enslaved and then had his freedom purchased by Luke (as in The Gospel of Luke) so that he could produce the outer covering of the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper (as in the Holy Grail) with the likeness of all of the prophets. In order to do so he has to travel around to their lectures and speeches, stay in their homes and ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Silver Chalice is a story of faith and finding something to believe in. Based after Jesus has been crucified and his followers are spreading his message. In a time when to be a Christian in the Roman empire of Nero meant death. A young man falsely enslaved is saved by a Christian follower named Joseph, a rich man in Jerusalem. Joseph had been entrusted with a sacred task, of keeping the cup that Jesus past around during the supper. This cup is an controversial item to be in possession of, th ...more
Nancy Ellis
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully uplifting classic tale of Basil, the young artist chosen to sculpt a silver chalice to hold the cup of the Last Supper. It is the time of the early Christian Church when the apostles are aging and we know their various ends are near, as well as it being a short time to the Roman destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. Very interesting to be put into the environment of political and religious intrigue and to "meet" the men we read about such as Paul (although he plays a rat ...more
What a disppointment! I'd seen this on a list of George RR Martin's recommended books, so I expected it to be complex, fast moving, or surprising in some way. On the contrary, it's slow, the protagonist is an idiot, it's poorly written and I quit at about 60% of the way through it.

One of my problems with it was the audiobook narrator. This was narrated a few decades ago, and I even recognize the narrator, David Case, from one of my all-time favorite audio books (The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Sou
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Costain was born in Brantford, Ontario to John Herbert Costain and Mary Schultz. He attended high school there at the Brantford Collegiate Institute. Before graduating from high school he had written four novels, one of which was a 70,000 word romance about Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. These early novels were rejected by publishers.

His first writing success came in 1902 when the Brantford
More about Thomas B. Costain...

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“Do you agree that we should order them back into the house and then scatter these watchers an send them home? If they refuse to obey there will be trouble. We will have to slit throats. I confess to you, Eleazer , that I do not like slitting throats at a wedding.” 2 likes
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