top of page

The Severed Breast

Set in first-century India, The Severed Breast tells the story of the Apostle Thomas’s epic struggle to convert India’s Hindus and Buddhists to Christianity. Betty, a college professor and world religions expert, brings to life ancient South India’s villages, cities, palaces, wars, famines, suttees, tribes, castes, gods, beasts, her mountainous jungles and fishing coasts and rich rice plains, her steamy climate, and her traditions—all of which constitute Thomas’ strange new world. Through his eyes we experience the opulent life of the royal court in fabled Puhar, long ago swallowed by the sea, and the historic Battle of Venni in horrifying detail. Betty imaginatively presents through flashbacks the critical events in the story of Jesus and Thomas in faraway Judaea. He gives insight into Hinduism’s historic resistance to Christianity, then shows how they might live together in harmony. But the novel is more than a story about the travails of India’s first Christian missionary. It’s a love story, interlaced with treachery, between a vulnerable saint with godlike aspirations and a golden-skinned Hindu queen of the ancient Chola Empire.

The Severed Breast is a revision of my earlier novel Thomas.

The Severed Breast.jpg


The Severed Breast is a wonderful novel with a masterful plot, profound insight into the psychology of spiritual life, full of exquisite poetry of human love. Spiritual seekers, especially those coming from the West to the East and especially those who going through a spiritual crisis will find great insights, inspiration, and solace from this book. Profound existential conflicts and struggles tearing the heart and mind of Thomas are those of any sincere spiritual seeker! 

~ “Amazon Customer”

The Severed Breast is one of the most appealing and provocative novels I’ve ever read. In the first place, it is beautifully written. The descriptive portions are full of engaging metaphors, while the dialog is as natural as conversation, even when, as at a trial or debate, it ascends into pure eloquence. Beautiful as the writing is, it is always immediately intelligible, and it never becomes an end in itself, but is always a vehicle for what is most important, the narrative.
In the second place, the technical, cultural, geographical, and anthropological detail concerning the setting, southern India in the first century, detail that is enfolded almost surreptitiously into the writing, reflects an astonishing amount of scholarly research—about boats and decoration and costumes and architecture and animals and government, and so forth. But once again such detail never becomes an end in itself, but is always a vehicle for the narrative. 

~ “Placeholder” from

I didn't expect the book to grab me as much as it did. Stafford Betty is a great story teller, his characters are well developed, three dimensional, and his Thomas is very human indeed. It is NOT a preachy, "religious" book designed to proselytize. I really appreciated his sensory description of the sights, sounds and smells of the cities, and especially the great battle scenes involving war elephants. My mind reels at the thought of the hours of research that went into this work. It is a long book, but it is one of those that makes one grateful because we get to travel with Thomas and experience with him the challenges he faces in trying to be true to the good news of the gospel of Jesus, while fighting his personal demons. Bravo to Dr. Betty for the love and sweat he put into this work. 

~ "JAYBE" from

bottom of page