Most helpful critical review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2011
I actually enjoyed reading this book despite the many flaws, and found it hard to put down; but there are so many flaws I feel I need to defend my own beliefs. If you are going to bash a religion - the at least get the details right!
Firstly the red herring that is through most of the book is useless as the title makes you guess the secret from near the beginning; so the author lost any suspense through trying to gain readers. This did spoil the book for me as there was no suspense... but I kept reading.
Secondly I agree with other reviewers that the woman knew far more than was reasonable and to keep the plot we had to trawl through so much information. And why would a loyal mercenary suddenly turn on his long-term employer just because he suddenly gets a bit squeamish of violence... not sure.
Thirdly, and most importantly for me was the Christian context. Anyone who has a strong faith can cope with challenges to it so I don't mind reading anti-Christian books as long as they are reasonable. but there are so many flaws that people who don't know much about this will not realise.
The negative portrayal of the passionately religious priest did not tally with his love of violence - to murder people to keep a vital secret is one thing but to use and archaic form of torture for no real reason seems only Catholic-bashing; however - I also found it a bit pointless about the Priest as if this secret was true and he believed it then the foundation of faith crumbles and his faith would shatter rather than him trying to just keep the secret for the sake of the religion. It doesn't make sense.
Furthermore, the notes at the end justifying the author's point of view were crucially selective and inaccurate. Everyone now accepts that Christmas was not in December but using a local pagan celebration; most people know that the modern image of Jesus is just fantasy, and he was a small Jewish man of no particular looks - as it already says in the bible; the loss of the years as he grew up are attributed to the fact that he took a parental role in his family until they were of an age to look after the mother and younger children himself - why does he need to be away travelling; lots of stories in the bible include mundane things like raising families and sheep herding.
Most importantly about Jesus' death/resurrection: As this is the foundation stone of Christianity - why would anyone follow him if he had just been partially crucified. The whole point was that the disciples were terrified of being caught themselves and hid - but suddenly something changed them and they became assertive and unafraid. What might do this? The selective texts - believing in the miracles but not the death and resurrection is a little far-fetched - the bible says clearly that he was tortured by the soldiers, so it is unsurprising that he did not last long on the cross - people even died just through the scourging; and the bible clearly says that there was proof that he was dead because the soldier speared him and his blood had already separated into water and blood, proving his death. Also because of the Sabbath the next day - the soldiers were hurrying up the deaths by breaking the legs of the victims - and the bible clearly says this was not done to Jesus as it fulfilled one of the prophesises about him from the Old Testament; so this is an important detail for Christians.
Selective belief seems strange - either you believe in the miracles of the bible - in which case rising from the dead is only one more; or you think Jesus was only a good preacher and a fraud. You can't have it both ways.
Shame it is a trendy thing to religion-bash; but if you are going to do it to sell books - then at least do it knowledgably!