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The Betrayal
The Lost Life of Jesus

by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear

     

Authors Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear are working archaeologists who have put their knowledge together to give lay readers a look into native cultures in their The People Of... North America's Forgotten Past series and their Anasazi Mysteries series. Together they have written over 40 novels since 1988. So, when I found that they had written a book about the historical Jesus, I knew that scholarship and strong research would be the basis for a good story.

The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus is a startling retelling of Jesus' life and of the early church. Two stories in two different time periods are woven through this book. It begins with a snippet about Jesus and his disciples and his closest companion and staunchest follower, Maryam, whom we know today as Mary Magdalen. As this biblical story unfolds in pieces through the book, readers discover that Maryam was a disciple and not a prostitute. In fact, she was a much-sought-after hairdresser and that was why she had money to buy expensive oils and perfumes to anoint Jesus' feet. Readers also learn about Joseph of Arimathea who offered his own tomb for Jesus' burial, his position within the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, his relationship with Pontius Pilate, and much more.

The other story stream takes place over three centuries after Jesus' death during the Roman Emperor Constantine's reign. Biblical scholars Barnabas, Zarathan, and Cyrus escape a mass poisoning at their monastery and a scroll burning that is part of a purge of documents deemed heretical after the Council of Nicea's designation of what should be the official texts contained in the Bible. With the help of the pagan washerwoman, Kalay, the monks carry away a small cache of suspect books and a very cryptic parchment that is supposed to lead to The Pearl, something Rome wants to find first and destroy. There are narrow escapes, coded cyphers, and attacks by soldiers of the Church bent on finding the parchment they carry and silencing them.

What unfolds in these two stories, and supported heavily by extensive footnotes, is a glimpse into the histories of these two time periods. Much of what the Gears bring to these timeworn narratives will surprise many readers who may not accept what these scholars have unearthed through their research. Not only do they use many of the lost books of the Bible recovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but they use writings by Romans, Jews, and Greeks of the time. They even delve deep into Jewish law, revealing how the Sanhedrin operated and explaining many of the rules for trials. This is all fascinating reading in itself, but it also enhances the reading of the two story streams in the novel.

The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus is a compelling read, on the one hand, for a great adventure story; and on the other to explore a more detailed history of these two moments in history surrounding Jesus and the early Church. It is controversial, but far less so than The Da Vinci Code. This book is currently available in hardcover, and a new mass market paperback will be released March 3, 2009.

The Book

Forge
June 10, 2008
Hardcover
0765315467 / 978-0765315465
Fiction
More at Amazon.com
Excerpt
NOTE:

The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Janie Franz is the author of Freelance Writing: Itís a Business, Stupid!and co-author of The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book and The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book.
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