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4.32  ·  Rating details ·  506 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
Author of Emma Who Saved My Life and Lookaway, Lookaway

Gospel concerns the search for a lost first-century gospel of the Bible, a document that could shake the foundations of Christianity. Wilton Barnhardt’s narrative races through three continents, nine countries, and dozens of colorful locales, as two characters—shy theological student Lucy Dantan and hard-drinking, dis
ebook, 816 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Picador (first published April 1993)
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Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why folks read "The Da Vinci Code" and ignored this I will never understand. This is a real novel and well written. DVC is absolute
rubbish written by a hack. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
This is one of my all-time favorite novels. Imagine a burned-out, cynical theology professor teaming up with a naive, idealistic grad student to follow the path of a lost First Century gospel from England and Italy to the Sudan and Jerusalem. Barnhardt skillfully incorporates the varied settings into the novel without allowing it to degenerate into a travelogue, and his character development is second to none in my opinion.

The narrative alternates between the present story and the text of the "g
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is it a thriller? Is it a church history? Is it the story of one man's struggle with his faith and God? Yes...yes...and yes. If any one of the above appeals to you, read this book. Exotic locations (and some not so exotic) and all the things you were told to never discuss at a dinner party - religion, politics and a little sex. The story is tightly crafted with mysterious and intriguing characters.

A word of caution - this is not a light read for the weekend. It's long. And, there's a great deal
This is the book Dan Brown wishes he could write. I cannot believe this never became a bestseller. It has finally be re-released and I hope it gets the acclaim it so richly deserves.
Jan 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a comparative history of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, the historical doumentation of this book is dumbfounding. It provides an introduciotn to the real history of these 'major' religiongs, without casting aspersions on them at all. Built from an Indiana Jones type adventure around the world with some admittedly two-dimensional characters, it is, nevertheless, an intriguing read. The best asides in the book come from an omnipresent narrator who may or may not be God. One note: Protes ...more
Mary Catherine
Apr 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this is a huge book (over 700 pages), it is worth the effort! It features a hard-living old professor and a young, naive grad student searching for a lost Gospel written by one of the Apostles. Their search takes them and the reader all over the world. This book makes the Davinci Code looks like a kids' book.

I would have given it 5 stars except I was mildly disappointed with the ending. But all in all I loved it!
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This novel is one of those "special" stories written in obscure and confusing way, but in a way that the author feels is scholarly and enlightening. This novel, "Gospel", is an adventure novel set against the background of the quest for an early Christian writing, the Gospel of St. Matthias.

Barnhardt actually opens up each section of the novel with excerpts from this fictional document, complete with effusive footnotes and explanations. The fictional gospel fits with the 20th century anti-Chris
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story follows two main characters, Lucy, a theological student at the University of Chicago, and the ex-Jesuit, hard-drinking professor she is sent to find in Oxford. He is on the hunt for a rumoured lost gospel, which could completely shake the foundation of Christianity. They travel in pursuit of clues for the whereabouts of the 1st century gospel, through three continents and nine countries. In between the sections of the coutries travelled, there are snippits of this gospel.

I was lent t
Dec 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, fiction, spiritual
I did not realize that 1.) this novel is out of print and 2.) it was 770 pages with several additional pages as an index with 100+ footnotes throughout the book. Loaded with nonfiction trivial facts about Christianity and Catholicism. Fascinating information. Makes Dan Brown's DaVinci's Code seem like a comic book. With a better editor and publishing guidance, this had all the potential to be the bestseller 15 years before Dan Brown's name was known. There is so much information in this novel, t ...more
I ordered this novel from our library system unaware of the length. Upon seeing it, I shuddered inwardly. And upon lifting it, I gave it a 30% chance of being finished. I absolutely love Barnhardt's Lookaway, Lookaway, but Gospel lost me after 100 pages. The book switches back and forth from a modern day story to a elaborately footnoted text from the time of the gospels. If the novel stayed with the entertaining albeit tediously told tale involving Lucy and various academics on a hunt for a lost ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sort of what 'The Da Vinci Code' might have been if Dan Brown was half the scholar and writer Barnhardt is. Makes you realize what a twisted skein is the history of Christianity. We could have ended up in many different places, for the worse or for the better.
Matt Ruff
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A naive Catholic grad student, an aging Theology professor, and a Brooklyn rabbi go on a wild chase across three continents in search of a lost Christian gospel. This is the novel that The Da Vinci Code only dreamed of being, and it's a crime that the author is not better known.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Let me begin with the obligatory statement (seriously, check the other reviews) that Dan Brown wakes at night and cries into his pillow because nothing he's written has come even close to being as good as Gospel.

The novel takes place in the 80s and concerns an aging, male academic and a young, floundering, female grad student on the search for The Gospel of Matthias; the modern day search is interspersed with chapters of the gospel they're trying to find and translate. I read this for the first
Jenny Peterson
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful plot with intriguing characters. I love that Barnhardt included God as a character in the novel, with a tremendous sense of humor.
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Professor O'Hanrahan ist auf dem Weg eine umwerfende Entdeckung zu entschlüsseln. Es gibt ein weiteres Evangelium, das den Verlauf der Ereignisse rund um den Nazaräer möglicherweise vollkommen anders schildert als die bisher bekannten vier kanonischen Evangelien. Anders als andere apokryphe Schriften ist dieses Evangelium jedoch hundertprozentig glaubhaft. Bereits einmal hielt der Professor das Werk in Händen, doch es wurde ihm wieder gestohlen. Jetzt macht er sich mit einem Rabbiner und einigen ...more
I first read this in the early 90s-ish I think. Loved it then. Loved it because of the puzzley aspect & the bits of historical trivia.

I just re-read it. I must not have picked up on much of the deeper themes back then because this time around I was disappointed & offended more often than not. I also know more about church history now and my political views are more defined...& apparently NOT the same as the author's. Anyway, I tried to look past the blasphemy and enjoy a book about
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Sadly, this book was a huge disappointment (Barnhardt's Emma Who Saved My Life is terrific!). I normally enjoy novels which involve extensive research and are crammed with information. However, the material has to be integrated into and support the story. All of the historical data is either contained in vignettes that interrupt the flow of the story or are crammed into footnotes (This is the second novel that I've read recently to utilize this technique and I didn't like that one (Infinite Jest ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I waver between 2.5 and closer to 3 stars. This book needed an editor, not only to trim the excessive length, but also to tame first-time author flaws such as erratic plotting and pacing, inconsistent character development, and to reign in endless, long-winded and lurid stories about Catholic saints and martyrs, early Christian church history, and a laundry list of atrocities committed by adherents of the three monotheistic religions throughout the ages that just went on and on. Despite a basica ...more
Jul 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god. I tried to give this book a shot. Everyone has posted such glowing reviews. But how could any of you stand the POV of the main character? I managed to make it 58 pages before I had to bail.

She was annoyingly naive. I also detested her characterization. I was also a sheltered catholic school girl, and yet by 28 I was no longer acting like a 16 year old. Holy shit.

I held on hoping the professor character would be more interesting. Instead he's an asshole who lets a young woman get terr
Laura Koerber
Too long, but at times very involving. I love the travelogue-style tour of the history of Christianity. There's a lot of silliness, but an underlying seriousness that increases and becomes more open as the story progresses. I didn't read the part that is a parody of a Gospel. I skipped those chapters and concentrated on the main story. Interesting for people who want to think about how religion shapes people and people shape religion. God is one of the characters and is both loving and sardonic.
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Thanks to Kim for this great recommendation! Gospel came up when we were discussing the genre of "academic mysteries." It fits the bill perfectly as it follows a cranky professor and a naive grad student on a quest for a lost Gospel that may reveal a secret about the early Church. In addition to adventure and antics, Gospel offers a host of fascinating and bizarre histories about saints, popes, and other religious figures. It also does a nice job depicting the role of religion in the lives of it ...more
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I have read and re-read and will read again. Some might read it as 'anti-Christian' or
'anti-some-other religion' but that is to miss the point. The book is somewhat anti-blindly-following
-dogma-without- thought but it is more than that too. It is an enjoyable read that asks you to think about the world, prevailing cultural ideas, and 'what would I do'? It is also a bit adventure, a bit mystery, a bit romance, a bit coming of age, and a lot of fun and interest.
Joseph Street
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part mystery, part farce, part travelogue, part insider's history of Christianity, part political essay, this book should have collapsed under its own weight (and I'd be sympathetic to the argument that it does). But it's full of so much irreverent humor (Barnhardt takes amusing pot-shots at Western hypocrisy in its many, many incarnations, from ancient Greece to 1990s America), knowledge both trivial and profound, and ultimately, heart, that eventually I found it irresistible.
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what an incredible ride! I love a good story. I love a romp through history and I love theological mysteries. This author is incredible. I can't imagine where he started. It's a story within a story both based in fiction, but... all the footnotes (and there are plenty!) are true and accurate. Gospel is exciting, intelligent, profound, and incredibly funny. I really have to read it again someday.
1998 Mar 28

What kind of boring person am I? The kind who takes a big, fat novel with her on her honeymoon. The Spouse watched baseball and played golf, I read books and swam, and if you're curious, then yes, I recommend a week of sheer rest for the bride and groom after the stress of the wedding.

It was a wonderful read to really sink into.
Jim Sanderson
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
If it hadn't been for a wholly unexpected plot twist very late in the book, I think I would have called this the best book I've ever read. I found it very satisfying on so many levels... For me, all of the characters quite credible, their development and motivations made sense and, with that one exception, the plot worked beautifully. I wish a document like the Gospel of Matthias would be found.
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before the Da Vinci Code, there was Barnhardt's Gospel. The story line is similar in that an alcoholic Catholic priest and an aspiring theologian are searching for a long lost gospel book of the Bible. Lo and behold, what they learn could change the face of Christianity forever. An enjoyably long and chewy novel, definitely not meant for a beach read.
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: super-good
Incredible, wonderful book.
Lost gospel interspersed with race across countries to find it.
Full of religious entertainment - historical Ireland, Israel, Italy, etc.
O'Hanrahan and Lucy Dantan.
Recommended by Ada Gollub.
Bobby Thompsoniii
Strangely, given my tastes, this is my favorite book. One part coming of age story, one part James Bond, this is just a good book. Throw in footnotes that differentiate the facts from the fiction and you have a novel that would teach Dan Brown how to be an effective author.
Eric Hines
Sep 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy, religion
This book took a while to get into and some of the schtick gets a little bit tiresome, but most of its quirkiness is actually charming rather than precious, and there's a seriousness underneath the considerable superstructure of the novel that is carried off quite well.
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Wilton Barnhardt (born 1960) is a former reporter for Sports Illustrated and is the author of Emma Who Saved My Life (1989), Gospel (1993), Show World (1999), and the New York Times bestseller Lookaway, Lookaway (2013). Barnhardt took his B.A. at Michigan State University, and was a graduate student at Brasenose College, University of Oxford, where he read for an M.Phil. in English.

He currently t
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