On Ascension Day May 22, 838, Bishop Bodo, chaplain, confessor, and favorite of both his kin, Emperor Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, and Empress Judith, caused the greatest scandal of the Carolingian Empire and the 9th century Roman Church.
Bodo, the novel, dramatizes the causes, motivations, and aftermath of Bodo’s astonishing cause célèbre that took place during an age of superstitions, a confused Roman Church, heterodoxies, lingering paganism, broken oaths, rebellions, and dissolution of the Carolingian Empire.
Why did I write a novel about Bodo-Eleazar? Little-known historical individuals who led interesting lives arouse my interest. Sparse documentation about them gives me more freedom to create character motivation and an entertaining story line that fills the lacunae of their lives.
When I researched the life of Vicente-Isaac de Rocamora, the historical protagonist of my published novels, Rocamora and House of Rocamora, I came across the story of Bodo, the Apostate. Despite different origins and centuries, their lives had striking similarities, which motivated me to write this Historical novel.
Separated by eight centuries, documents confirm Bodo and Rocamora came from noble families. Both were educated to serve the Church. Both lived at their respective Courts. Each became close to the royal family. Each was a spiritual advisor to a royal personage. Both defected from Christianity and converted to Judaism. Both chose Hebrew names. Bodo became Bodo-Eleazar bar Israel, and Rocamora chose Isaac bar Israel.
Bodo-Eleazar and Vicente-Isaac de Rocamora have differences. Church documents, which appeared in the last chapters of Bodo and in Latin at the end, detail the effects of the scandal caused by Bodo’s apostasy, whereas the Spanish Church is silent about Rocamora’s conversion to the Law of Moses. Another is that Rocamora’s life is relatively well documented after he converted in Amsterdam, but very little is known about him earlier in Spain. Much less is known about Bodo before and after his conversion.
The motives given by scholars for Bodo’s apostasy fall into two camps of speculation: either he was influenced by contact with the Jews over many years, or he decided to convert to Judaism on his way to Rome. My description of Bodo-Eleazar’s journey from Christianity to Judaism may have value no more or less than theirs, but perhaps as the result of a novelist’s instinct, it may well be the most accurate and definitive, until and unless proven otherwise.
Author of four other novels, ROCAMORA, HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, A GATHERING OF VULTURES, and CLOSE TO THE SUN, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.
Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood, Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.
After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.
Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and preparing to write a sequel to CLOSE TO THE SUN.