Sam Coale, a professor of American Literature at Wheaton Colleges, in a special book review for the Providence Journal, Vatican thriller ‘The Fifth Gospel’ is a divine mystery, tells us:
If you liked Dan Brown’s "The Da Vinci Code," you will revel in this spectacularly intricate, psychologically probing, suspense churning and better written thriller-mystery by the author of "The Rule of Four." It took a decade for Ian Caldwell to write this book, and it’s all worth it with its fascinating analysis of the differences in the gospels, its focus on restoring the discredited Shroud of Turin to Christ’s actual burial cloth, its deliciously labyrinthine Vatican intrigue, its mix of cardinals, archbishops, a dying Pope John Paul II, lawyers, tribunals, priests and violent death.
This is a tale of two brothers, Simon, a tight-lipped, martyr-haunted Roman Catholic priest and diplomat, and Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest whose love for his son knows no bounds, especially since his wife, Mona, left him. Ugo Nogara, an art curator, has discovered the Diatessaron, which has combined all four gospels into a single narrative, a fifth gospel, and may prove that the Shroud is real. He’s found shot dead on a stormy night at the Castel Gandolfo, after which someone breaks into Alex’s apartment.
I’ve been listening to the audio of the book, off and on, while walking the dog. It’s good. Is a movie next? If so and if they don’t deviate too much from the novel, it will be more accurate than CNN’s piece on the shroud.
As of this morning, March 14, 2015, The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell (Simon & Schuster) is #14 on the New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover fiction. It has been on the list for one week. Not bad since it has only been available for one week. That is what good PR will do for you. And having been a best selling author, before, doesn’t hurt.
BTW, here, from the NYT, is about as short a description as you can get for this novel:
Two brothers, a Greek Catholic and a Roman Catholic priest, both connected to a controversial museum exhibit about the Shroud of Turin, are at the heart of a mystery set in the Vatican in 2004.
YOU MIGHT THINK, if you have been part of the shroud crowd for a few years, that the Fifth Gospel refers to the shroud. Well, it doesn’t; not in this book. So, now, you are going to have to read it.
On February 4th, I blogged about A Most Anticipated Book of Spring 2015: About the Shroud of Turin. Publishers Weekly had picked a fiction book about the Shroud of Turin as one of The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2015. The book was The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell.
At the time, I said the book would not be available until the middle of March. Well, I was wrong. You can buy it, starting today, in Hardcover, Kindle and Audible.
Ian Caldwell, whose previous book, "The Rule of Four," was on the New York Times bestseller list for 49 weeks and translated into 35 languages, has a fascinating article in Salon, Inside the pope’s bedroom, Vatican secrecy and the lives of married priests: My 11-year quest to write “The Fifth Gospel”
The novel’s genesis traces to 2003, when I came upon the surprising fact that our modern notion of Jesus’ physical appearance – the bearded, long-haired man of Christian art – goes back to about 400 AD, before which no one seems to have agreed what Jesus looked like. The Bible offers no description, so where had this image come from? Around the same time in history, mysterious relics appeared in the Christian East, purporting to be divine portraits of Jesus not made by human hands. In 1978 a British scholar proposed that the cloth we know today as the Shroud of Turin might in fact be the most famous of these early relics: an image widely known and revered in early Christendom. Even though carbon-dating tests declared the Shroud a medieval fake almost 20 years ago, millions of faithful continue to travel to Turin during the Shroud’s periodic expositions, making this single cloth more popular than any museum on earth. Increasingly, they share a conviction that today’s Turin Shroud is indeed that celebrated relic of times past. Is it possible, then, that the Shroud is the most influential image in Christian history? That, when it first emerged, it was considered so authoritative that all subsequent images of Jesus can be traced to it?
There is this:
In the years that followed, I would buy 600 research books on the Vatican, all of them aimed at solving one question or another in this way. The books would arrive at my door from almost every country in Europe, including the Vatican itself. My private obsession to know the history and appearance of every building within the pope’s walls, and as much as possible about the important rooms within them, provided a welcome distraction from the harder work at hand: understanding what Catholics believe about Jesus. For, in order to do that, I could no longer rely just on books.
Today, looking back on it, the terror of reaching out to my first priest seems overwrought. In the time since that first interview, I have traded phone calls and emails with Holy See diplomats, Vatican priests, Church lawyers, the wives of Eastern Catholic clergy, the Jesuit former editor of America magazine, and the papal caretaker of the Shroud of Turin. That first time, though, unnerved me.
Of this new novel, world renowned novelist David Baldacci writes, “Masterful…The Fifth Gospel is that rare story: erudite and a page-turner, literary but compulsively readable. It will change the way you look at organized religion, humanity, and perhaps yourself.”
You might be interested in a new book I just published on lulu.com about the Shroud of Besançon. The book is in French, but it may interest many of your readers, at least Andrea Nicolotti….
Thanks, yes. I wish I could read French. But, yes, this blog has many people who read French in addition to Andrea.
On his website, Sindonology, Mario tells us about the book:
Do you know the Shroud of Besançon? It was as popular as the Shroud of Turin for almost three centuries. It disappeared in 1794 during the French Revolution.
Do you know the 18th century manuscrit (known as Ms 826) containing two dissertations on that Shroud? One dissertation is for its authenticity, whereas the second one is against it. The first dissertation has a proof of the origin of the Shroud of Besançon from Constantinople. So it says. But that proof has been shown to be somewhat dubious. Yet, this dissertation, and its proof, was cited numerous times by scholars and historians on the Shroud of Turin. Discover this proof by reading the manuscrit, and the comments presenting it, in the following book, just published on lulu.com.
Mario goes on to tell us that his book will be available on Amazon and from other distributors in France in the near future. Moreover, an e-book is in the works.
Gosh, I wish I could read French. Maybe when the e-book comes along I can figure out how to feed it into Google or Bing.
And in a note of interest on his Sindonology home page, Mario tells us that Andrea Nicolotti and Cécile Brudieu will also be publishing a book on the 18th century manuscript. In French, I imagine?
Some details on Mario’s Book, now available at Lulu:
- ISBN: 9781312942714
- Copyright: Mario Latendresse (Standard Copyright License)
- Edition: Première Édition
- Publisher: Mario Latendresse
- Published: February 24, 2015
- Language: French
- Pages: 134
- Binding: Perfect-bound Paperback
BING: My iPhone binged in the night to let me know an email I was waiting for had just arrived. Amazon was letting me know that the book I had pre-ordered, Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery.: Six Holy Objects That Tell the Remarkable Story of the Gospels, had arrived on 1) my laptop, 2) my iPhone and 3) my Kindle reader at 12:13 am on the very day the book was released. This is the book that is a companion to the upcoming CNN special.
If you haven’t ordered it yet, you can do so now and be reading the book in a matter of minutes. Your laptop is all you need though I prefer an iPad. In the U.S. the price is $12.99.*
I immediately turned to the last chapter of the book. It pertains to the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium. There are three major parts to the chapter:
- The Man of the Shroud,
- The Shroud of History and
- The Shroud of Science.
After 3 cups of way-too-early-in-the-morning strong coffee, I’m happy with what I read. It dovetails nicely, though not in every detail, with what I think is true about the shroud.
The authors even discussed one of my favorite elements of history, a third-century bit of Gnostic poetry from the Gospel of Thomas known as the Hymn of the Pearl (or the Hymn of the Soul). I quote from the book:
… but suddenly, [when] I saw the garment made like unto me as it had been in a mirror. And I beheld upon it all myself (or saw it wholly in myself) and I knew and saw myself through it, that we were divided asunder, being of one; and again were one in one shape.”
The last paragraph of the last chapter of the book reads:
Both the scientist and the cleric come to the same conclusion about where the Shroud fits in the story of mankind. “Personally, from my involvement in research on the shroud for almost forty years,” says physicist John Jackson,
“and the wealth of scientific data that we did acquire, I do think that this is the historical burial cloth of Jesus.” Fr. James Martin says, “When we look at the authenticity of the shroud, my gut tells me that it’s real.” At the same time, he ventures that the story will continue: “It is a relic that produces more questions than answers … I don’t think we’ll ever get to the heart of the mystery of the Shroud of Turin.”
ANOTHER BING: Another email. The audio version just arrived from Audible.com at 4:33 am. Perfect. I have a dental appointment later this morning and so I’ll put some ear buds in my ears and start listening to the book from the beginning.
* BTW: If you haven’t ordered John Klotz’ The Coming of the Quantum Christ: The Shroud of Turin and the Apocalypse of Selfishness, do that while ordering Finding Jesus. It will only set you back another ten bucks. John will thank you and you will thank me for recommending it.
Disclaimer: I have not read the book.
Vincenzo Giovanni Ruello has begged me to announce it. The Shroud Guild’s Facebook page, which welcomes comments from members, beat me to it. There, on Facebook, Ruello tells us that he has published a Kindle book entitled The Second Shroud Discovered: Includes Author Autobiography. He writes:
The book is a Novella, 60 page true autobiographical, supernatural drama of my life leading into the discovery. I believe a little book will help me promote the discovery. Am now commencing to contact Hollywood,wish me luck.
In this true novella’s preface we read:
Never since the discovery of the images of the Shroud of Turin by Secondo Pia in 1898 has the world seen such images. The discovery of the Second Shroud photographic images in 2011 from another Holy and precious cloth which have been hidden for nearly 2000 years will leave you breathless. Journey through the life of a man who was tortured and abused as a child by the system that has been protecting this cloth and shrouding it in total mystery and secrecy, until now, when by chance and fate, the hand of God decided to act with an inspirational new form of infrared image processing technique that has now revealed the once hidden Holy face of Gods’ Witness the survival of a stricken soul, transformed into a courageous and enlightened being, fighting for the TRUTH to be told as he battles the prejudices and political clouds of disbelief and apathy now raging our humanity. The Second Shroud Discovered will turn your life upside down and rip apart your heart, mind and soul.
Apparently, by tilting the screen of his laptop computer and photographing it with a handheld digital camera, Ruello is able, in what are perhaps reflections, interference patterns or generated noise, new images that to his way of thinking reveal important information. You can preview some of this material at his website: The Rome Veronica Veil And The Second Face Shroud Back Processed And Decoded (www.veronica-veil.com/)
Note: more on Ruello in this blog
Chapter 6 is about the Shroud and the Sudarium
The first segment on CNN will be about the Shroud
The book that accompanies the CNN series on Jesus will be available in four formats on February 24, 2015.
- Hardcover for $20.24
- Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook for $12.99
- Audio CD for $22.19
- Audible for download to portable devices for $20.99
The hardcover edition, published by St. Martin Press, is 256 pages (6.3 x 9.5 inches).
The audio editions, published by Macmillan, are narrated by Peter Larkin and run 6.5 hours.
Most vendors are accepting pre-orders now.
The Table of Contents
- Author’s Note
- Introduction: Who is Jesus?
- 1. John the Baptist: Rival Messiah, Bones of Contention
- 2. The James Ossuary: The Hand of God or the Crime of the Century?
- 3. Mary Magdalene: Prostitute, Apostle, Saint—or Jesus’s Wife?
- 4. The Gospel of Judas: Christianity’s Ultimate Whodunit
- 5. The True Cross: Enough to Fill a Ship
- 6. The Shroud and the Sudarium: Jesus of History, Jesus of Mystery
Some editorial reviews (from Amazon):
"A fascinating, provocative and informative entry into the life of Jesus. Finding Jesus uses controversies over recent archeological and literary finds, as well over some long-argued-over tales and relics, to provide readers with solid scholarship and thoughtful insights into the life of the man whose life, death and resurrection continues to enthrall and inspire." — James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus a Pilgrimage
"Holy doubt is an essential element of faith, yet we are tantalized by stories that give historical insights in support of the foundations of our faith. Finding Jesus explores six artifacts that are windows into early Christianity and our desire to know what happened. These windows let us see that faith is deeper than history, but knowing these complex stories can sustain us as we grapple with today’s questions. Finding Jesus’ stories reveal our very human and complex hunger to understand mystery and our past." – Sister Simone Campbell, author of A Nun on the Bus
"For more than two millennia, few people have captured the imaginations of human beings like Jesus Christ. Whether you are spiritual or skeptical, ‘Finding Jesus’ will help you experience the life of One who changed the world. Part anthology and part theology, this book is about what Jesus meant to those who knew him and what he means to those who claim to know him today. Let ‘Finding Jesus’ lead you on a journey of faith and facts–you won’t be sorry!" —Jonathan Merritt, author of Jesus Is Better than You Imagined
"Finding Jesus is for the curious: folks who are thrilled by spiritual quests and desire to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the history of our faith. You won’t regret following Gibson’s and McKinley’s path through twists and turns of the Gospels — and at the end of that path is the One who makes this greatest of stories make perfect sense." – Joshua DuBois, author of The President’s Devotional
"In a mix of engaging scholarship and gripping storytelling, Gibson and McKinley offer a page-turner for a wide audience." —Kirkus.
About the authors (from Amazon):
DAVID GIBSON is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker who specializes in covering the Catholic Church. He appears frequently on network and cable television as a commentator on religious affairs and is a frequent commentator on NPR. He has written and co-written three prior books and also writes for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Boston Magazine, and Fortune among others.
MICHAEL MCKINLEY is an award-winning author, filmmaker, journalist and screenwriter. He has written several books, and wrote and co-produced the CBC TV documentary film "Sacred Ballot", as well as several documentaries for CNN Presents.