The Antioch Testament: A Novel About the Lives of the Apostles After the Resurrection by Donald Joiner starts out with a siege in the Iraq War in which a priest is mortally wounded, staying alive long enough to give an army chaplain an ancient manuscript that the Muslims want to destroy. Against policy, the chaplain sends the book to the United States to deal with during his return home. Most of the rest of the book deals with the translation of the manuscript written by Ignatius, a student of the apostles. The manuscript deals with the lives of all the apostles. However, a plot is brewing to get rid of the manuscript by the Muslims who have found it has left the country as they track it down to a monastery in West Virginia.
There’s so very much right with this book! I’ve read a lot of religious novels that skew the facts given from the Bible so much that it’s unbearable to read. I honestly do not know much about Ignatius other than he followed the apostles and there is writing traced back to him, so I can’t comment to the fact that the information in the novel is accurate or at least accurate to the best of our knowledge, but it fits. I was also highly impressed with the apologetics used in the book as well that the theologians back up what the manuscript says with other historical documents and archeology. It was highly fascinating. I really enjoyed the sessions that the scholars had with the chaplain. I also enjoyed how those facts brought one of the characters to a revelation at the end of the story. The sessions flowed well and were well organized. The editing is well done as well. Bonus points for part of the story being set in my hometown, although I can’t imagine anything like that happening here.
The only issues I had with this book was that the timeline for the Muslims seemed a bit off. It felt like they were working faster than what the time allowed for the translation was. I also felt the story got off to a slow start. The first part with the military scene could have been shortened as we really didn’t need to know about most of the characters that were introduced. I think the chapters on the Chaplain’s injury could also have been shortened to get to the actual manuscript part.
Overall, this was a very intriguing read and while I don’t know enough about this particular subject matter, I think this book has a lot of merit for the research side of it. I want to go look at the writings myself as the author didn’t make a note either way, but it is at least a believable story. The history is rich and interesting to read and the plot is well crafted. History buffs will feel at home in this one!