Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Secret Scroll - Book Review

The Secret Scroll
By Ronald Cutler
Beaufort Books 2008

This is yet another novel about the "what if..." question. What if Jesus DID write something about himself, and what if this scroll was only discovered in the 21st century?

Well Joshua Cohan does exactly this. Josh is an American Archaeologist, and a Jew, living in Pennsylvania. When a discovery he makes in Mexico is credited to someone else, he finds out what it is like to be denied professional credit for his work. So Joshua takes a leave of absence and goes to Israel. In Israel he feel as though he is home.

Joshua has dreams, and these dreams lead him to a cave in a remote part of Israel not far from the Dead Sea, and there he discovers a jar (with a scroll inside) dating from the Second Temple period (between 50 BCE and 50 CE). The Scroll is written in Aramaic - the language that Jesus and his disciples would have spoken.

Under Israeli Law, all archaeological findings belonged to the state and are under the control of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The rest of the novel involves Joshua cooperating with the IAA to determine if the jar and scroll are genuine. The IAA team must also battle an unknown religious group that hates Jews and starts attacking and killing members of the IAA research team.

This religious group claim to be Marcionites.

As for the Scroll that Joshua found, it has some interesting information. But the part I love the best and that rings true for me in this current day and age is the following "translation" in chapter 76 near the end of the novel.

The existence of evil in the world can be attributed to mankind alone. As long as he wages war, man is a savage, for war is a savage act and is a blockade to enlightenment. The day will come when there is will be justice in this unjust world. When all people realise their potential, the impossible will happen.

Just remember that this is a novel. The above paragraph was made up by the author. But at least he recognizes the truth about humanity.

While I did enjoy this book and read it within 24 hours, I feel that I have to be honest. There is nothing unusual in this novel - except for that last paragraph I quoted. Lots of people dream about finding the one scroll that proves Jesus WAS alive and that he DID perform miracles and that he WAS the Son of God. Noone has ever found such a scroll for real in the last 2000 years, so I doubt that anyone ever will find such a scroll.

I actually prefer novels set in Israel that have a different angle on them. Novels like The Samson Effect. That was a totally different and unexpected angle, and those are the sort of books I prefer. Below is a trailer of this book - The Secret Scroll.

Marcion of Sinope (Sinope is on the Black Sea coast of Turkey)

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