A Skeleton in God's Closet
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A Skeleton in God's Closet (Jonathan Weber)

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  750 ratings  ·  125 reviews

When an ancient skeleton is discovered in Israel, will it shed new light on the life of Jesus or plunge the world into chaos?

Dr. Jonathan Weber, Harvard professor and biblical scholar, is looking forward to his sabbatical year on an archaeological dig in Israel. But a spectacular find that seems to be an archaeologist's dream-come-true becomes a nightmare that many fear w

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published (first published December 31st 1994)
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With the exception of the final 50 pages, this book was tedious to read. But I had to finish it, as family members loved it and love Dr. Maier and have been asking me to read it forever.

So, what is wrong here? The writing is absolutely atrocious. Let me count the ways:
* The narration constantly engages in the flaw of telling instead of showing.
* Dialogue is wooden and sprinkled with dull humor that annoys rather than amuses.
* Character development is weak, forced and, in the case of our hero, e...more
I started this book after a recommendation from a dear friend. It is not my usual read but I found the plot intriguing. I was so disappointed that I had to struggle to finish it. While the story was engaging I found the characters and the development horribly lacking.

The premise was that the bones of Jesus had been found during a dig thus disproving the Resurrection. Chaos ensued while the scientist tried to verify and authenticate the find. The biggest problem I had was the romance between Jon...more
I *tried* to finish this book. I'm not a book snob and this book was recommended to me by a good friend. In hearing her talk about it, I thought it was going to be some version of the Da Vinci Code, which I enjoyed in a pulp fiction way. "Ooooh, tell us what happens next with his chiseled face and rock hard abs!" I read the author was a Michiganian so I thought, heck, why not read this the last week of Lent? I'm sorry. I'm so sorry but this is one of the worst books I've ever read in my life. Fr...more
The plot is fascinating, I'll give him that. Speculate: what if archaeologists discovered what looks like really could be the bones of Jesus? I geeked out over all the archaeology in this novel, less so the theology. The whole thing was marred by Maier's writing. It was seriously weak, and detracted from his scholarly strengths. His dialogue was truly unbelievable, peppered with far too many exclamation points, and the "romance" was just...awful. He can't write a female character worth beans, mu...more
May 28, 2009 Rae rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rae by: Assigned for class
Way too predictable. There wasn't really anything that wasn't completely obvious. The dialogue was ridiculously cheesy and unrealistic. Plus, he uses italics way too much. Literally twice in every line of spoken dialogue. It was annoying to read. Also, the characters explained too much, and in a very textbook format that made it no less than absurd. And I didn't really care to hear about a 40-year-old man lusting after a 20-year-old girl every other page. The general premise of the book was inte...more
I came to this book via the author, who was known to several friends of mine (I never met him) and they said I should read his stuff, being a medievalist and scholastic type myself. (Some of my friends are unclear on the historical period delineations.)

So I did, and it was entertaining, and that's that. I mean, it's sad, but my first reaction on finishing was, "okay, what's next?"
Here's the thing. Maier's premise is really good, in terms of asking what would happen to Christianity and the world...more
Tracy Krauss
Review of "A Skeleton In God's Closet"
The is based on the 'discovery' of Jesus bones along with other artifacts that 'prove' its authenticity. It is very thorough in its academic approach to the archeological aspects of the story - perhaps too much so, in some cases. I found myself skimming through some of the more dry scientific stuff to get back to the story. The story itself, however, is well written. I especially appreciated the skill in which the author described the scenery and even the e...more
Janet Render
Ik zou dit boek niet aan iedereen aanraden, simpelweg omdat het toch wel een christelijk tintje heeft, en daar moet je 'tegen kunnen'. Ik vond het boek erg sterk geschreven, de feitjes en wetenschappelijke methoden warenvoor mij als leek overtuigend, net als het plot. Het boek is spannend geschreven, en zet de lezer aan het denken over wat de vondst van zo'n Rama-document wel niet zou betekenen voor de wereld maar ook zeker voor de lezer persoonlijk.

De reden dat ik dit boek geen 5 sterren geef...more
Howard Zang
May 13, 2013 Howard Zang rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Action/adventure and religious fiction readers.
Shelves: action-adventure
This book is a good read for anyone who likes reading historical fiction, action/adventure books and religious fiction. It's well paced with a good plot and interesting characters. The story line is intriguing with some thought provoking concepts.
The other John
This one's a mystery for archaeology geeks. What if the old joke, "Cancel Easter. They found the body." came true? Dr. Jonathan Weber discovers the body of Jesus of Nazareth buried in Ramallah. Or does he? He and his companions endeavor to verify the authenticity of their find. In the meanwhile, news of the discover leaks out and the world has to deal with the consequences of a Christ who has not risen. It's an intriguing concept and I did get caught up in the mystery. However, the book did come...more
Marc Volgers
Goed, spannend boek. De opbouw is goed, het zit degelijk in elkaar (zeg ik als archeologie-leek). Ook na een 2e keer lezen nog leuk.
Tiff Miller
Where do I start?

I really wanted to like this book. Alas. I cannot. The only reason I finished it was so I could feel truly justified in writing a review.

First, the positives:
It is very scholarly, and full of information nerds like me can appreciate. I enjoyed the long explanations of various scientific processes used to authenticate archaeological finds. This kind of thing has always piqued my interest, and I enjoyed those sectors of the book, even though they felt drawn-out and slow.

The conce...more
Feb 03, 2012 Alicia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Drama
Recommended to Alicia by: My mother

It was a good book. I suppose I was expecting it to be more along the lines of "Indiana Jones" or "The Mummy" right off the bat, but it was more of an "Indiana Jones in the classroom"--the hero was on a dig, but there weren't the sort of adventures I guess I was expecting to come along with the dig. Instead, there were a lot of archeological terms and procedures explained and used that went over my head. However, towards the end, there was finally some of that “action-adventure” I was exp...more
Well, an interesting read. I actually really enjoyed reading about archeology and some of the methods they use to date and place artifacts that they find. Very intriguing. I also really enjoyed the plot line most of the time - it really gave you food for thought. What if..... how would that effect any beliefs that you or those around you had.

The author had some interesting theories about how people would react. I think there are a lot of fanatics out there that would totally freak out and go to...more
Archealogists in Israel think they may have found the bones of Jesus Christ. They try to keep their find secret so they can determing if they are really Jesus' bones, but the story leaks to the media and the world turns upside down. I thought this was quite well written and had several twists before the climax. I did not completely understand all the information given on carbon dating and other techniques used to verify the age of the archealogical finds, but it did give me some insight into som...more
I remember really wanting to read this when I first read a review about it. I bought a used copy and then It sat on my shelf for a long time. I recently obtained an audio (abridged) copy, so figured that was the way to go in order to get to it more quickly.

It's a decent-sized book, but on audio it's only 3 CD's, so it's apparently been abridged quite a lot, and that was obvious when reading, with all the really abrupt transitions and such. I've not read Paul Maier before, but know that he's a C...more
I bought this book because a good friend who's interested in a lot of the same things as I recommended it. Honestly, it was one of the most poorly written novels I've ever read! I had just been reading manuscript submissions for the publisher I volunteer for sometimes, so my critical hat was on, but oh my! If I had written slush feedback about this one it would have said;

'Rejected. This novel holds lots of potential, as the premise is unique and interesting, and the twist of who the villain is...more
I listened to an Abridged audiobook copy of this book. This was an interesting story. I took it on a road trip and was thankful as I could listen to most of it as I was driving. I don't want to say much 'cause I don't want to spoil it for the next reader, but it was thought provoking. To think, what would one do if such a discovery as Jesus' remains were found? Would you turn Christianity on it's ears by letting the world know? Or would you keep quiet and let sleeping bones lay?

Note: This was an...more
Here's the caveat to everything that follows: the first time I read this book, I was just figuring out my own thoughts on organized religion. Raised Lutheran and Catholic, I was at the age that the bloom was starting to come off the rose (long story). Nevertheless, I've had the impression since the first read through that this book was a really fun, engaging, intelligent thriller that happened to ask a big what-if about Christianity.

Fifteen years later (or so), I found my copy and picked it up,...more
Abby Vandiver
4 1/2 stars.

Maier gives a world view on what would happen if you turned Christian beliefs on its head. It is not a pretty picture.

A Skeleton in God's Closet follows Dr. Jonathan Weber solving the mystery of missing script in a Christian document and the bones found in a 2,000 year old sarcophagus. All a very interesting read, well thought out and sometimes making you gasp and hold your breath as Jon faces peril in his quest. The love scenes were sappy and antiquated, and for this reader, skimmed...more
Going into this book, I only knew briefly what is was about so at first I was afraid it would be similar to The DaVinci Code - an attack on Christianity. However, I also knew the author was a Christian, so his point couldn't be to disprove Christianity. And he didn't. Rather, he tried to show what would the world do, if humankind suddenly thought Christianity was a hoax. Would Chirstianity as a whole survive?

A tough subject to try and surmize. Skeleton wasn't as gripping as the DaVinci code, bu...more
Peggy Huey
This book starts with a fascinating premise: What if archaeologist digging in Israel actually discovered the bones of Jesus of Nazareth? Taking readers deeply into the nuances of all things archaeological, using reasoned, rational thought to guide the exploration of the possibility, the book provides one answer to that question by positing that there is "A Skeleton in God's Closet". I'm looking forward to finding and reading the next book, "More Than a Skeleton".
Mark Baker
A very slow start to the book. Once it finally gets going, you can't put it down, but it needed to lose much of the opening 100 pages.

Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.
This is the author's first foray into fiction that I'm aware of, and it's really quite good. Maier combines all the right stuff a novel ought to have, amid a theological context, and makes it work. A very enjoyable book, enough so, that it generated two sequels. Recommended!
This book (of fiction) theorizes on what would happen if one of the main foundations of the Christian religion (Christ's resurrection) were called into serious question, and if scientific evidence was discovered that might forever change the world's view of who Jesus Christ really was.

The sociological and psychological effects on the world that might occur with these events are the basis of this book. I found the plotline very interesting and I think the author realistically depicts how the dest...more
Brian Eshleman
This book, a bit of light reading on one level, succeeded in creating an alternative world that shaped the way I look at this one. Even if when I didn't have my nose in the book I started to think about the world around me as though the body of Jesus had been found and had to consciously shift myself into rejoicing that the flesh and bone that the apostles touched never would be recovered in some grave.

in terms of the author's execution, I also thought the book was excellent. I found the plot ri...more
This book was more interesting for its explanations of the tools and techniques of archaelogy than for its character development. The plot was intricate and well developed, but the people were not very well-rounded, believable, nor interesting. Felt like a TV movie because of the lack of character development.
There were about 50 pages of actual plot and 300 pages of explanation of all the things Maier knows about excavation and archeology. This book seemed like a platform for him to display his knowledge, rather than an attempt at story telling.
It is sad that he is the worst fiction writer I've ever read because the plot would have been semi-engaging in the hands of an actual writer.
Instead, the romance that brews might be the most unrealistic and simultaneously nauseating aspect of the book, apart f...more
Before loaning me this book, my dear friend warned me that it would be very difficult to put this one down and she was so right! This focuses on an archaeological dig in Israel that has world-wide ramifications both historically and spiritually. I stayed up waaay too late reading this. It made me really question the foundations of my faith - in a good way. I wanted to be an archaeologist from the time I was about 12 and this just reinforced that desire by going into great detail about archaeolog...more
Paige D'winter
I really, truly loved the plot, the idea. I really, truly disliked the author's writing style. The dialogue was often hokey. The scenes were either over-described, or under-described. This story had potential! I'm sad :(
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Paul L. Maier, born May 31, 1930, was the Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University. Maier retired in the Spring 2011. He retains the title of professor emeritus in the Department of History at Western Michigan University. He is also a historical novelist, and serves as Second Vice President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

Maier is the son of Walter A....more
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