Over the years my husband has read a great deal about the early days of Christianity and especially about the gnostics. I was really excited when I won this book in a goodreads event. I thought it might be an entertaining read for him. He doesn't read much fiction, The Gnostic Mystery is classified as spirituality/fiction, and the cover of the book, although pretty in my opinion, "reads" almost like a romance novel; so, I guess I wasn't surprised to find it lying on the coffee table still unread these several months later.
By the age of 33, Jack Stanton has met his life goal of financial success and yet is still unfulfilled. He decides to visit his old college roommate, Punjeeh Kohli, a Catholic of Indian descent who is an ER physician in Jerusalem and married to Esther, a Jewish woman he met in medical school. He hopes a visit to the Holy Land will "rejuvenate his interest in the religion of his birth ... and feel a deeper, stronger connection to his faith." On his first afternoon in Israel, Jack and Punjeeh go for a swim at a beach on the Dead Sea. While there, Jack is approached by a teenage Palestinian boy peddling "artifacts" to unsuspecting American tourists. He admires the entrepreneurial spirit of the boy and pays him $10 for what he knows is a fake. Later that evening, Esther and Punjeeh introduce Jack to Chloe Eisenberg, who just happens to be a professor of philosophy and religion. Over dinner the topic of the scroll Jack purchased on the beach comes up. Jack retrieves the scroll from the car to show it to Chloe, and, to everyone's astonishment, it turns out to be an authentic gnostic artifact dating from the early days of Christianity. Of course, the reader knows this is one of the two scrolls that the seller's cousin and a friend had found in a cave just several days earlier and that the seller( actually a bit of a bully) had taken from their secret hiding place.
In this debut novel, Randy Davila has done a good job of explaining the gnostics and the history of Christian religion in simple terms. He obviously has done much research and study into the origins of religions. His ability to write fiction unfortunately does not parallel his ability to present theory. His prose is cliche ridden, his characters are shallow, his plot is underdeveloped. Alas, The Gnostic Mystery is not fated to be another Da Vinci Code.