Gospel Thrillers: Conspiracy and the Bible in Popular CultureMain MenuInside the Gospel ThrillersAn exploration of the contents of the novels and their genreBehind the Gospel Thrillers ThemesHistorical and social context for themes in the novelsBeyond the Novels: Gospel Thrills and U.S. CultureCultural spaces outside the novels in which the impulses of gospel thrillers are foundAndrew S. Jacobs45edf76073fc8204ba5adec5870047f3453dfd28
(1940) J.H. Hunter, The Mystery of Mar Saba (Evangelical Books)
12016-11-11T15:20:09-08:00Andrew S. Jacobs45edf76073fc8204ba5adec5870047f3453dfd281245817plain2021-11-17T07:18:46-08:00Andrew S. Jacobs45edf76073fc8204ba5adec5870047f3453dfd28 The prototype of the "gospel thriller" genre, this novel, written by Canadian author James H. Hunter and published by an evangelical press, condenses many of the themes that will become standard in the genre: the stark contrast between "good" (U.S.) heroes and "bad" (Nazi) enemies, plotted along lines of religion, gender, and race; the particular biblical colonialism of U.S. scriptural knowledge; and the absolute certainty that the gospel (in this case the "Shred of Nicodemus") could lead to the downfall of the West. Despite its publication date, The Mystery of Mar Saba anticipates many themes of the novels written after the discovery of the Gnostic gospels and Dead Sea Scrolls: the potential "heresy" of earliest Christianity; the possibility (and fear) of "new discovery"; and the tangled relationship between the Jewish origins of Christianity, U.S. imperial identity, and a new Jewish state in Palestine. The action takes places in the British protectorate of Palestine at the dawn of World War II, and is very much told from the perspective of the pro-Zionist Euro-Americans in charge of the colonial space.
Hero: George Anthony "Tony" Medhurst, a blueblood millionaire agnostic who discovers love and faith in Palestine while helping to foil a Nazi plot to bring down the British empire Villains: Professor Heimworth, "noted German Higher Critic and archaeologist" who masterminds the "Shred of Nicodemus," as well as the "Hooded Ones," a local anti-Zionist terrorist conspiracy Gospel: The "Shred of Nicodemus," which reports that the resurrection of Christ never happened; it was forged under duress at Heimworth's direction by a Greek scholar (whose "mother was a German Jewess") in order to bring down the British Empire
Reviews: The original publication garnered little attention, but as this Goodreads page attests, it has captured modern readership rather steadily.