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A Skeleton in God's Closet (Jonathan Weber)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  910 ratings  ·  139 reviews
From the author of Pontius Pilate comes a fascinating novel of archaeological adventure. The evidence seems incontestable: bones unearthed in an Israeli tomb are those of Jesus of Nazareth. But which is the hoax . . . the archaeological find or the Resurrection itself?
Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 17th 2005 by Thomas Nelson (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
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
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
Rick Davis
I have very mixed feelings about this book, so I’m going to have to break down my review in multiple parts.

The Author: Paul Maier is a great scholar, and I have greatly appreciated his translations of Eusebius and Josephus. They are highly readable and widely acclaimed. I also read and enjoyed his historical novel Pontius Pilate, though it was a bit on the dry and scholarly side for a work of fiction. I think, however, in the case of this book, Maier would have benefited from the presence of a c
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
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
Richard Brown
I'm a fan of Paul Maier's non-fiction writings, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to sample his fiction. If you're already a Maier fan, this book will be enjoyable for you. Maier did a reasonably good job blending history in with fiction, and it was highly amusing for me to read about historical objects (such as Codex Vaticanus and the Dead Sea Scrolls) in the context of a fictitious story.

This book puts forth an interesting thought experiment. Is Christianity still Christianity without the resurrec
At a first-century archeological dig in Isreal, a set of human remains is discovered that will throw the world into turmoil. Could this actually be the physical remains of Jesus, thus negating the resurrection for all of Christianity or is it an extremely clever and complex hoax?

The author has written a top-notch novel with all the necessary elements of suspense that keep the pages turning. He is obviously well educated in science, archeology, ancient languages and theology. The book was fascina
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
I picked up this book at a used book shop on the vague memory that someone liked it.

It was work getting through the first fifty or sixty pages--the writing is horrendously canned, every pulp fiction cliche unabashedly right up front. As far as plot, the book runs a bit better--satisfactory though often predictable.

But I found myself caught on both the detailed descriptions of archaeological method and the well-formed imagining of how the world would react if Jesus' bones were discovered. Maier
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.
Lekker spannend. In Amerika is het gewoon een sabbatsjaar te hebben. Om artikelen te schrijven of onderzoek te doen. De briljante wetenschapper Jonathan wordt ontboden bij de Paus.Hij doet in het vaticaan een verontrustende ontdekking. Met veel vragen vertrekt hij naar Israël om daar mee te werken aan een veelbelovende archeologische opgraving bij de plaats Rama. Wanneer Weber na enige tijd stuit op een unieke vondst lijkt de droom van iedere archeoloog voor hem werkelijkheid te worden. Deze dro ...more
Allison Fetch
My dad recommended this book to me, and some id read the author's "The Flames of Rome" and found it outstanding, I looked forward to picking up this novel, as well. I have to say that it read like a completely different author. The writing was stilted, the conversations forced, and the science at times unwieldy. With that said, however, I found the subject matter intriguing and thought provoking. The 'whodunnit' factor was interesting, but I appreciated the spiritual wrestling much more. I am cu ...more
Todd Stockslager
Intriguing premise examines the world's reaction to news of the findings of the bones of Jesus in an archaeological dig in Israel. Part adventure novel, part theological treatise, the best part of the book is that it works well enough to stand on its own as a novel outside of that central plot premise.

And the writing is far superior to that of Clive Cussler in the one of his books that I read (the comparison comes to mind as the two books might compete in the action-adventure genre).
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
Feb 03, 2012 Alicia rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
I really enjoyed the storyline - lots to think about concerning how we hold on to our faith. However, I was unfortunately not a huge fan of the writing style and wished desperately that the love story had been left out. The scenes were so cliched and stilted as to be almost painful reading. Why must every novel include a romantic storyline?! This particular story would have been no worse without it - and perhaps, even better.
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
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".
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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 about Paul L. Maier...

Other Books in the Series

Jonathan Weber (3 books)
  • More Than a Skeleton
  • The Constantine Codex
The Flames of Rome Pontius Pilate The Constantine Codex More Than a Skeleton Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed The World

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