Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Constantine Codex

The Constantine Codex (Skeleton Series)The Constantine Codex by Paul L. Maier is the third book in the Skeleton series. Harvard Professor Jonathan Weber acquired a national reputation for great discoveries and wife, Shannon in previous books in the series. In this volume, Shannon is working on a dig in Pella when she discovers some fourth century pages that refer to a long lost book of the Bible. As the couple investigates those documents, they stumble upon a book that has the capacity to rock the Christian world. In the midst of the investigation, Jonathan has a fatwa placed upon his head and ends up in an internationally televised debate a Muslim professor about the viability of their respective religions. When the book disappears, Jonathan must scramble to recover it. Maier has created a fascinating "what if" story answering some of the hardest questions about the New Testament. His scholarship in ancient history gives the story lots of color and fascinating detail. The author digresses often, but the detours are often pleasant, adding insight to an aspect of faith or religion. However, the debate just eats up pages and kills any suspense building about the Codex. It has interesting dialogue about the differences between Christianity and Islam, but it seriously slows down the story. Maier suffers from the tendency of many professors in that he loves to teach his readers rather than entertain. The history and concepts are truly intriguing, but the romantic aspects are a bit clumsy, and Shannon, despite Maier's efforts, often serves as Jonathan's straight man for his numerous pranks and his student to allow him to show off his wealth of knowledge. I think Maier needs a sterner editor for future works to help him pare down the unnecessary side tracks and to strengthen the tension and keep suspense building.

Thank you to Glass Road Publicity for providing me with a copy of this book for review!