Thursday, April 22, 2010
Evan Drake Howard's The Galilean Secret ~ Reviewed
The Galilean Secret: A Novel
Evan Drake Howard
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: GuidepostsBooks (May 1, 2010)
A crumbling scroll long lost in a forgotten cave offers a provocative and illuminating new interpretation of the man known as Jesus. An expertly plotted story based on the author's actual research in Israel, the novel entwines two stories: one set amidst the modern-day conflicts in the Middle East, the other set in ancient Palestine, yet both offer a perspective on the universal struggle for true freedom and love.
The relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene has long fascinated scholars and intrigued nearly all believers. What was the nature of their relationship and how has it influenced Christianity since the first millennium? With compelling storytelling in the style of Dan Brown coupled with years of exhaustive study, Evan Drake Howard has created a magisterial novel that asks, and attempts to illuminate, enduring questions on the nature of love.
In first-century Jerusalem, the faithful Judith finds herself caught in a web of romantic betrayal and intrigue. She must reconcile her faith with her conflicting feelings for two brothers, one the Zealot Dismas and his brother, the sensitive merchant Gabriel. A letter written by an insightful Galilean rabbi changes their lives forever and sets each on a new path of discovery, humanity and love.
In modern-day Israel, amidst the war-torn countryside, Karim Musalaha, a young Palestinian, finds himself with similar struggle. Caught between his brother's relentless ambition for martyrdom and his powerful love for a woman he cannot have, his life seems an endless journey of rage and despair. Until one day, while seeking refuge in a long forgotten cave in Qumran, he discovers a crumbling scroll with a mysterious text. Still legible after two millennia, Karim reads a message that indeed changes his life forever. But will the cost be worth his newfound knowledge?
In what will grab its share of controversy, Evan Drake Howard, exercises his knowledge of Israel and scripture texts and massages them into a novel entitled the Galilean Secret.
The Gospel of John states (John 21:25) that Jesus did things beyond what was chosen to appear in the accounts of His life. Howard has stretched this concept into a dramatic imagining of the lives and interactions of those who followed Jesus. It is a brave man who will attempt to build on the Jesus depicted in scriptures. Howard has done that, putting words in His mouth and flesh and personality into a character that may leave many readers offended and others ecstatic over this fictional Jesus's enlightenment.
Part treatise on love one another with plenty of sermonizing by multiple characters, part soap opera with love triangles, violence, lust and selfishness, part historical told completely in modern language, this story is timeless and speculative. Basic plot involves a hidden letter that a modern day Muslim finds that could end up bringing peace to the Middle East. However the details of that letter are controversial and may end up doing more damage. Both the ancient narrative and modern stories are interwoven and told throughout the novel, each building on and launching the story to it's final conclusions.
I did find the writing to be utilitarian vs compelling though the read was fairly quick in spite of the nearly 500 pages. I'm not sure what group of readers I'd suggest try out this novel. I struggled with The Shack's female version of God, but was able to see the purpose of the writer. I'm still struggling tremendously with the liberties Howard took with Jesus and His group of disciples. So I'm going to suggest that those who had any issues with the portrayal of God in The Shack avoid the Galilean Secret. I haven't read the Da Vinci Code because I couldn't get past the first chapter. However, some of the same themes play out in this novel.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer