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The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus    by Kathleen O'Neal Gear & W. Michael Gear order for
by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2008 (2008)

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* *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

Renowned husband and wife authors W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear, of the First North Americans and Anasazi Mysteries series, return with their most controversial book to date. Also archaeologists - with backgrounds in biblical archaeology, religious studies, Greek and Latin - the Gears apply over thirty years of research to write a fictional story of Jesus Christ, or Yeshua.

The Betrayal is told from two viewpoints; the first is that of Yeshua, as he travels in his time, changing the world in his way. While Yeshua is the book's most important character, his plotline supports the main viewpoint, that of Brother Barnabas. The monk Barnabas, living in the year 325 after Yeshua, is a student and copier of ancient holy texts, texts that tell the true story of Yeshua, some in his very own words. These books portray a Jesus different from the commonly known one: heretical and radical, contrary to the contemporary Church's teachings. The Ecumenical Council of Bishops has now decided that these holy texts are nothing more than 'a hotbed of manifold perversity,' contrary to the Christian faith, not to be read or copied by anyone. Emperor Constantine decrees that all copies of the sacred texts be destroyed and anyone found with them executed as a heretic. But Brother Barnabas, knowing that the texts tell the true story of Jesus, makes it his mission, as ordained by God, to save them for the world and the future, no matter the cost.

While The Betrayal seems well researched and the Gears have the background to know what they are talking about, the reader is left wondering how much of this is really true - could there really be a giant conspiracy hidden by the Church after all this time? The book is classified as fiction and shelved in that section in bookstores, and features a favorable quote from Lewis Purdue, author of Da Vinci Legacy. In fact, The Betrayal bears some resemblances to the likes of Da Vinci Code, Rule of Four, and other books published in the last decade which question religious dogma. It begs the question as to whether the Gears are attempting the true story of Jesus or a bestselling novel in this popular genre, or perhaps both? The reader will have to decide for him- or herself.

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