Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Heretic's Treasure

I just happened to spot this on the shelf at the library, and thought it sounded like the kind of thing I quite like, although I usually don't like the fact that it's a standard assumption absolutely everything to do with the church is corrupt and false, and it's generally a mission to disprove it all. But when I read the blurb and found that it mentioned Ben Hope, a character I was sure I recalled from somewhere else (The Mozart Conspiracy, as it turns out), I decided to give it a go. And I was surprised. No, by now rather boring, attempts to 'prove' that either Jesus never existed or never meant church to be church, etc, but instead, a fascinating book that delved into Ancient Egypt. The Heretic in question was an Egyptian Pharaoh, Akhenaten, who decided that the polytheism practised by the Egyptians was all wrong and he was going to make everybody worship just one god. There are some who link him to Moses, and until recently almost nothing was known about him. Incidentally, I read a fantastic book about him/his time called Act of God (non-fiction), and there has clearly been plenty of research into this book. Fast paced and gripping, this is a brilliant example of an archaeological thriller, those books which have got me half wishing I was going to do archaeology... Although to be honest, I doubt it's quite as glamorous as these books make out. Exciting, with a couple of fun twists (although not the most unexpected of twists perhaps), I thoroughly enjoyed this book and once again stayed up later than I probably should have done.

I would just like to add that I have nothing against books in which the characters happen to find evidence of church corruption/that things aren't quite as Christians think. I just a) find it tedious that it seems to be the only 'mystery' a lot of authors bother with, b) find myself wondering why some new heretical gospel should be more accurate than the ones we already have--what's to recommend them above others, and surely if they were suppressed there was perhaps a problem with their accuracy/statement of events (and let's remember that the first copies of the gospels were circulating within about forty odd years of Jesus' death, not, as these books constantly seem to suggest, within about four hundred odd years), and c) find that they rarely give any good ideas as an alternative. Take, for example, David Gibbins' The Last Gospel. All well and good, it was a brilliant book. But the ending, I felt, rather spoilt it. Jesus' parting words ran along the lines of 'don't build churches'. Hmm... Anyway, I highly recommend The Heretic's Treasure, and I'll be looking out for more books by Scott Mariani for certain.

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