17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Historical Detective Work at its Finest,
This review is from: The Sign And The Seal: Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant (Paperback)
This is an exceedingly interesting book, albeit controversial, for anyone interested in "history's mysteries." For those of us who have pored through the works of Zecharia Sitchin and dared to ponder questions that the scientists and religious authorities regard as sacrilegious (after all, science itself is a religion), this is especially interesting material. You don't have to believe in Hancock's theories (although he offers a weighty, serious argument for them) in order to love this book. Even if you regard the idea of the Ark of the Covenant resting in Ethiopia (or the notion that the Ark even exists) as preposterous, you can enjoy this book in the same way you can delight in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories; this book is about solving a mystery. Just as Holmes' series of adventures often resulted in no real, firm, graspable truth, so is the case here. This detracts little from the story, however. The final judgment is left up to you, the reader, which is the trademark of any substantive mystery--only in this way can the great and unattainable "truth," in its most esoteric sense, be discovered.
Granted, Hancock is not a scientist or theologian, but this may in fact serve as his greatest qualification for tackling the types of lofty problems he embraces. After all, the vast majority of scientists and theologians dismiss without consideration the sorts of "wild" ideas discussed in this book; if not for the open minds of men like Mr. Hancock, many truths that have now been established would remain jokes told by the arrogant "experts" over tea--take, as an example, the discovery of Troy. As for the content of this book, it truly is a mix of history, religion, and archaeology. This is not Indiana Jones' quest for the Ark of the Covenant, so anyone looking for that sort of action will be disappointed. Anyone expecting to see pictures and Hancock's personal descriptions of the Ark will also be disappointed. Whatever rests in the Church of Saint Mary of Zion in Ethiopia will not and probably should not be revealed to the eyes of anyone other than its appointed guardian.
What you will find in this book is a lesson on the history of the ancient Israelites and of the Biblical Ark, a history of Ethiopia (which I for one had never really heard the first thing about), a history of the mysterious Knights Templar (truly fascinating and mysterious men), and an enlightening story of Gothic architecture and mediaeval literature. Parzival is not an easy book to read, and thus it is rather unknown, even though it is just as important (and, if Hancock is correct, much more important) than Malory's better-known treatment of King Arthur and his search for the Holy Grail. The idea Hancock presents, namely that the Holy Grail was in fact the Ark of the Covenant, manages to bring together the story of the two most important Biblical artifacts in history. If you have an open mind and a zest for "understanding," then this book should definitely be included on your reading list. Believe Hancock's opinions or not, the tale he tells is fascinating, dramatic, and intellectually enlightening.