Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"the constantine codex" by paul maier

What if ... the "missing" ending of Mark was found? a "second Acts," which picks up exactly where Acts leaves off, was discovered? the Apostle Paul's remains were identified?

These are the questions Paul Meier addresses in The Constantine Codex. When archaeologist (and Harvard professor) Jonathan Weber and his wife Shannon discover an old manuscript in Turkey, they realize they may have found one of the earliest versions of the New Testament. But someone doesn't want this discovery to be made public, and he or she will do everything possible to stop the Webers.

I had an extremely hard time getting into The Constantine Codex. In fact, for the first 145 pages or so, I kept reading only because I'd agreed to review the book. My notes say things like, "Dialogue sounds forced," and "Muslim history being explained is vastly more interesting than the plot!" (Reminds me of my reaction to The Topkapi Secret!) Meier actually addresses this problem (though perhaps unintentionally) with this sentence on page 139: "If Jon had one questionable habit, it was his proclivity to overexplain things to people ..." That's exactly how I felt about Maier's writing!

Finally, though, a debate between Jon and a Muslim scholar piqued my interest, and the book suddenly became vastly more entertaining. I'm not sure if the dialogue actually got better or if I just didn't notice the awkwardness anymore because I was so intrigued by the story. Either way, the final two thirds of the book were quite interesting. So I'm going to make an odd recommendation: If you want to read this book--and if you're interested in Church history, you may really enjoy it--start at Chapter 10. I'd be happy to fill you in on what happens before to save you from boredom! (You will still get your fair amount of awkward dialogue by beginning with Chapter 10, but it's really where you need to start to understand the events that take place later.)

The idea of 2 Acts is really interesting, and I wonder what would happen if something like that were discovered. If nothing else, this book taught me about the history of Islam and caused me to think about the Christian-Muslim debate.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Glass Road Public Relations. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. This book sounds very similar to the DaVinci Code. I wish writers were more original and unique. Some of them leave much to be desired.

  2. A lot of other reviewers compared it to The DaVinci Code, saying this book was even more action-packed and gripping. I didn't read it, so I can't make the comparison, but I have a hard time believing that purely from an entertainment standpoint (forgetting any theological quibbles), Constantine is better.


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