Vic's Reviews > The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus: A Novel

The Betrayal by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
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Apr 06, 09

Read in April, 2009

The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus: A Novel by Kathleen O'Neal Gear is an infinitely more interesting and provocative commentary on religion than the gimmicky book by A. J. Jacobs about his year of living biblically.

I have never particularly liked nor believed in organized religion nor found any comfort in religious doctrine. Nor do I respect an industry that consists of each group lobbying vociferously for their own particular brand of truth. Not to mention the outright lying, acts of genocide, horrendous judgment, exclusion and persecution of those individuals who dare to question or resist indoctrination into ____ name the religion. Be that as it may, I am in no way a non-believer, infidel maybe, but non-believer, no. I believe with all my heart that God exists and that a divine spark lives in each and every one of us. I also believe beyond a doubt there are a great many people who gain comfort from their faith and their religious beliefs.

In my mind, this begs the question: does it really matter what we have faith in, or is there a mechanism that produces a feeling or a change simply by the fervent belief or repetitive belief of something until it is created externally or physically as our own personal reality? There is a mystery to life, a spiritual dimension that is neither easily understood nor explained. I think that part of that mystery is our limited understanding or self-awareness of the mysterious and magical creation we physically inhabit. We are basically elegant creatures with most of our computing capacity turned off. I suppose that one of the great purposes of life is to turn on the internal computer. But I digress.

Kathleen Gear has written a provocative, highly controversial fictional narrative about the life of Jesus Christ. The essential premise of the story is simple: the resurrection is most likely fictitious and the immaculate conception, the bedrock of Christian faith, makes for a better religious story than the holy mother getting knocked up by a roman centurion, which apparently is fairly well documented. I can’t imagine mainstream America, or mainstream anywhere for that matter, not wanting to blow this book off as either heresy or simply the evil rantings an overactive imagination. What most of the naysayers probably don't realize about Kathleen and her husband, Michael Gear, is that they are trained academicians, archaeologists and historians. When they do historical fiction they write only what they have studied and worked out scholarly and empirically. Never mind that the Church decided to ban the inclusion of the most interesting and vexing of the gospels in the Bible. Never mind that the Church has assumed and maintained control over what the average person is to know, and hence believe, happened some two thousand years ago. The Gears are scientists who love the mystery, touch the mystery and believe in the mystery; they simply do not accept the pretense and blatant disregard for accuracy or detail that lurk in the shadows of the church.

The work is classic Gear all the way. As writers they entertain, but more than that, they are teachers. Everything is well documented. Nothing is presented as absolute, only a legitimate possibility, maybe even likelihood. Still, like all good teachers, their intention is to provoke the reader into thinking and feeling in a new way based on new information. All of their historical fiction is intended to teach while entertaining. They excel at placing the reader squarely into the time period they are writing about and this story is certainly no exception. They love to challenge convention and unabashedly include sexuality in all of their explorations of spirituality and divine mystery. I must admit, I love these guys and what they bring to my world.
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Reading Progress

03/15/2009 page 120
30.0% "Extremely well-researched and thought out historical religious fiction that utilizes a lot of the texts banned by the Church. Eye opening."
03/22/2009 page 160
40.0% ""We know from the writings of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish historians that . . . Jesus was an illegitimate child." The Gears"
03/30/2009 page 257
64.25% ""We did not use the story of Judas' betrayal of Jesus because it is suspect." The Gears"
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Patti (new)

Patti Swift Vic, This sounds like a fascinating read, and very timely. I do think there can be some value gained from a religious community, maybe not the standard organized religion that is so popular. I learned quite a bit and gained some lasting friendships and support from the Unitarian Chruch. I agree with the likelyhood that Mary was raped by a Roman Officer rather than the belief in immaculate conception. But again, I use the Bible as a tool, full of many useful and enlightening stories, not as factual. I look forward to reading this someday!

Patty, i started this book yesterday and finished it today.. it is really A GREAT READ...

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