Dr. Jack Townsend and his wife Michelle, biblical Greek scholars, are noted for their books on the defense of Christianity. They are in Rome, trying to find the lost ending of the Gospel of Mark. They are convinced the missing part of the manuscript was torn off the original document and remains hidden somewhere in the old city. Their research assistant finds a long forgotten storeroom under the Vatican and the search for the fragment intensifies.
Dr. Albert Stein is a scholar who was humiliated when his latest work was soundly critiqued by Townsend. Stein is in Rome to accomplish two tasks. He wants to somehow destroy Townsend and also prove that the early church fathers were wrong. Stein believes Gnosticism is the true “gospel” that the early church tried to suppress. He believes that the kingdom is to be taken by force, by use of physical strength. He is ready to use any means he can to accomplish his goals.
A bomb explodes in a Rome underground subway tunnel and it looks like it is the work of an anti-American faction. When the Townsends' research work is written up in a newspaper, it is noted they are Americans and they quickly become a target of the fanatic bombing group.
In the midst of this tension, a mysterious man approaches the Townsends claiming to be a descendant of the first century family that acquired the missing fragment of Mark. As Jack and Michelle trust this man to take them to the place where the manuscript is supposedly hidden, they may be heading to the discovery of the century, or to their deaths.
Wise has crafted a well written novel involving the scholarship centered on the verification and preservation of biblical manuscripts. Through character dialogue, one learns much about the topics. Reading this novel is a painless way to learn some important aspects of Christian history. Even if one is not interested in the history aspect, this is an exciting novel about contemporary scholarship and the lengths some are willing to go to make a name for themselves in the academic world.
Abingdon Press, 333 pages.
I was provided an egalley of this book by Abingdon Press for the purpose of this review.