I've begun to receive a number of very favorable reviews for The Murdered Messiah and I'm very grateful for them. It will take many more to lift the book in the Amazon ratings and I will do my best to earn them. There is one review I may not receive--a review that recognizes the unique connections I have made between elements which are known to those who are interested in Jesus and Second Temple Judaism, but not usually (if ever) considered to be related. Thus, scholars and even non-scholars who are familiar with this era are obviously aware of Johannon the Immerser, the Essenes, Qumran, Judas the Zealot, Judas the disciple, Herod Antipas, and of course, Jesus of Nazareth. Some historians have written that the Immerser may have been in contact with the Essenes in Qumran, based on proximity. No-one that I am aware of other than I, has put Jesus, Johannon, Judas (the disciple) and the Essenes together at the same time.
There are many other connections I have made, some direct, some more subtle. There are clues to these relationships in the "Notes and Citations," but even then, simply indicating sources is not enough. Actually, to fully understand my intentions requires a scholar who is totally knowledgeable about Jewish and Christian scripture and the relevant history of the era. Not that I consider myself such a scholar, but I have the advantage of having written the material and knowing what sources I used and the connections I was trying to make. The irony is that the people who can most readily decipher the text and understand these relationships are not likely to read The Murdered Messiah. Some have contempt for fiction, others claim that they haven't the time.; they must limit themselves to verifiable "facts."
Fortunately for me, my audience is not limited to "experts." I wrote The Murdered Messiah" for general audiences, and my novel will succeed or fail based on their responses.
Lately, I've been receiving some very interesting reviews of this book. I have always been concerned that I might be misunderstood; that readers might believe I am the enemy of Jesus of Nazareth--that I might be the enemy of Christianity. There are many people and events in The Murdered Messiah which can be offensive to some readers if they are both devout and profoundly opinionated. Fortunately, thus far this has not been a problem (Thank God). In fact, one reviewer wrote that her belief in God and love for Jesus had grown deeper and stronger after reading the book. Another wrote that he hadn't really connected with Jesus as a person until he read my novel--that Jesus had come alive for him in my pages.
I am profoundly gratified by these responses. It is been a long slog, and from time to time I have wondered whether or not I should even have begun this project, let alone devoted decades to this historical novel.
Some readers have been impressed by the extent of my research. Of course, reading hundreds of books, attending many seminars and lectures, conversing with experts--real and self delusional--visiting many relevant sites in Israel, Jordan and Egypt, has been essential and enlightening for me, but none of this proves that my views and interpretations are correct. And yet, more and more recently revealed data have helped strengthen my belief in what I've been doing. I have read and I was told that the Jews of Jesus's time limited their rituals and their studies to the great Temple in Jerusalem. But then, the ruins of a first century C.E. Jewish synagogue were revealed at Migdal on the Sea of Galilee (Mary Magdalene). An older Jewish synagogue was discovered under the ruins of the known 4th Century C.E. acknowledged synagogue at Capernaum. Further ruins which may be from a synagogue were uncovered near Jesus's hometown of Nazareth. It now appears there may have been as many as 400 synagogues in and around Jerusalem at the time of the Jewish War, 66-70(or 72) C.E. and many others elsewhere in Judaea and Galilee
Until the late 19th century, it was generally believed that Jesus was literate, and then subsequently, as the study of the historical Jesus developed, there were many scholars, perhaps most, who came to believe that Jesus was illiterate. I think that's nonsense, and there is not a shred of evidence to support it, but that is another matter.
Very recently, in the crypt of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, evidence has been found of an ancient burial in the very site, traditionally believed to be the place where Jesus was buried. A reader of The Murdered Messiah will find that in the Prologue there is a compelling episode involving this hallowed ground.
Perhaps I've been on the right track(s) all along.