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The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

The Fifth Gospel

by Ian Caldwell

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4432723,636 (3.83)16



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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Author Ian Caldwell spent over a decade on this book, and it was NOT a waste of time in any way whatsoever. A terrific read, especially for current or lapsed Catholics--Roman, Orthodox or Greek--who want a reminder of the rich history of the Church and the gospels that gets presented as part of a compelling larger story.

In this one, the main mystery surrounds the death--on the grounds of Castel Gandolfo--of the man who was preparing to open a Vatican exhibit on the Diatessaron, a real-life "fifth gospel" that was essentially a blend of the four gospels that we know today. Tied in with that is the Shroud of Turin and questions regarding its authenticity. While the story acknowledges the past radiocarbon dating of the shroud to the Middle Ages, it also offers an enticing what-if that is central to the overarching story, which also involves efforts to reunite the Eastern and Western branches of Catholicism--which in turn was something near and dear to John Paul II, whose life is nearing its end at the time of this story's setting.

Was the curator's death tied to the Diatessaron, the Shroud, or something else? Greek Catholic priest Alex is trying to find out as he also tries to save his brother, a Roman Catholic priest, at the same time. Among the many awesome components of this novel, the relationship between Alex and his son, Peter, is simply terrific, and Alex works hard to try to protect his young son even as he works hard to protect his brother, who has been accused of the murder and who doesn't seem to want the help. Alex is the real hero of the tale, but there is plenty to like in many of the other characters, as well, as this book has no shortage of things for me to rave about.

So for me, this one will join Thomas Gifford's THE ASSASSINI as a five-star read with a strong Catholic setting. It's interesting to note that both Gifford and Caldwell required over a decade to produce their respective books. I don't know if that means that research on the Church is just that time-consuming or if it means that it's easy to get sidetracked in the history of it all. But like Gifford, Caldwall has provided me with a well researched and deeply intricate novel that I will surely be reading again at some point. ( )
  jimgysin | Jun 19, 2017 |
The Fifth Gospel. Ian Caldwell. 2015. Caldwell was the coauthor of Rule of Four, a fun novel that takes place on at an Ivey League college and concerns a mysterious medieval novel. Books, mystery, college campus, what’s not to like?! The Fifth Gospel is even more intriguing. It is set in the Vatican, and the main characters are two priests who are also brothers. One is Roman Catholic and the other is Greek Catholic so the differences between the Roman Rite and Eastern Rite are explored. The plot concerns The Shroud of Turin and a mysterious gospel, the purpose of which is to resolve the seeming discrepancies among the four gospels accepted by the Church and the murder of the curator of a Vatican Museum display concerning both. It will be compared to Brown’s Da Vinci Code, but it is so much more. It is chocked full of accurate descriptions of the Vatican, Biblical history, and the lives of priests. Best of all faith is taken for granted and treated as normal and with respect. ( )
  judithrs | Jan 30, 2017 |
Although Ian Caldwell is non-Catholic, THE FIFTH GOSPEL is full of details about the Vatican and the priesthood. This is a literary mystery--who killed a religious scholar and why, is the Diatessaron really the fifth gospel and where is it, and is the Shroud of Turin really what is claimed and who does it belong to?

What fine character development in this novel! In particular, two priests, brothers, one Roman Catholic, the other Greek Catholic, are the main focus. Told from the point of view of one of them, Alex, this story is his investigation of these mysteries after Ugo, the religious scholar, is found dead, apparently murdered. Ugo had been studying the Diatessaron and found allusion there to the Shroud of Turin. Is this the reason he was murdered?

Catholic readers will appreciate all the research Caldwell did on the Vatican and the priests and bishops there. I'm not sure, however. if a non-Catholic would. I think THE FIFTH GOSPEL might have bored me if I were not a Catholic.

Or maybe I'm wrong about that. Maybe the reader will appreciate this novel for its character-driven mystery when so many mysteries/thrillers are simply plot driven. ( )
  techeditor | Nov 2, 2016 |
The story of the Shroud of Turin has been known for centuries and many Christians and Orthodox Christians believe the image it bears is that of Jesus of Nazareth. In spite of radio carbon dating of the burial shroud to the middle ages the belief endures that the negative-type image is a proof of Christ's resurrection. Of course, there's no way to definitively know if the shroud is authentic and even the Gospels conflict of the words used to describe the "clothe(s)" used to bury Christ

The story involves brothers, one a Catholic priest, the other a Greek Orthodox priest, and their life long residence in Vatican City. Alex, the Greek Orthodox, is distinctly different than other clergy in Vatican City. He has a wife and a child named Peter. Simon, the Catholic priest, is devoted to bringing the conflict between the eastern and western versions of Christian belief that has existed for centuries to an end. Both brothers have been working with a layman and curator on biblical research into the Shroud using the existing Gospel's as well as a fifth called the "Diatessaron," created long ago to combine an interpretation of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John into one. The curator has, evidently, made a discovery about the Shroud through his research and the Vatican has scheduled an exhibit to display his findings. The exhibit is being used to heal the long held schism between The Vatican and Greek Orthodox Church's and is controversial and risky for all concerned. Just prior to its opening the curator, Ugo, is killed at Castle Gandolfo, the Pope's home and retreat outside of The Vatican. The plot thickens and becomes very complex as passages of the existing Gospel's are interpreted and reinterpreted and, in the end, the reader will be challenged to piece together the complexities into an overall ending.

Doubt, in an of itself, is the bedrock of faith. If there were no doubt faith would not exist, it would instead be certainty. Church dogma builds meaning into the doubt to lessen its offsetting effect on religion, yet it will never be eliminated. The author worked tirelessly for ten years to create this book and produced a fiction with real life facts about the Shroud, the Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church, and, ultimately, the reigning Pope, John XXIII, in the final phase of his papacy. Father Alex and Father Simon are caught between the murder of the curator, Ugo, the nature of how he died and in the final analysis the truth and authenticity of the Shroud. Their findings can affect the faith of millions and either heal or widen the schism between two great paths of faith, Catholicism or Greek Orthodox. The reader will learn a great deal about the Gospels and their conflicting history of Jesus' death calling into question the very foundation of belief. The author capitalizes on the nature of faith and its ultimate uncertainty.

The information about the Vatican, its library, and geography was worth reading the book which is superbly written and includes characters that come to life during the story. Would highly recommend this book for anyone with curiosity about daily life in the mysterious world of the Vatican. ( )
  drawoh2014 | Sep 13, 2016 |
The Fifth Gospel is a very slowly paced mystery/thriller, with an abundance of religious details, especially concerning the schism between Eastern and Western Catholic church. This was a difficult book for me to continue reading, as I felt many times the story just plodded along. I mainly continued reading because it was the novel of choice for my face-to-face bookclub and I also wanted to find out what the resolution was to the "mystery".

Ultimately, I am giving the book 3 stars, more for the degree of historical research that must have gone into writing the book and less for the story itself. For full disclosure though, mysteries and thrillers are not my favorite genres, so perhaps that was a factor in my feelings.

I would recommend this book for readers who love murder mysteries and are not put off by an over abundance of historical facts interspersed throughout an otherwise fictional account. Also, for readers truly interested in learning more about the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, this might be the book for you. ( )
  Lisa805 | Jul 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
"Caldwell (The Rule of Four, 2004) makes intriguing literature from complex theology, weaving in a text lost to history, the Shroud of Turin and Vatican duplicity."
added by bookfitz | editKirkus Reviews (Jan 15, 2015)
"An intelligent and deeply contemplative writing style, along with more than a few bombshell plot twists, set this one above the pack, but it’s the insightful character development that makes this redemptive story so moving."
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For Meredith. At last.
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My son is too young to understand forgiveness.
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A lost gospel, a contentious relic, and a dying pope's final wish converge to send two brothers--both Vatican priests--on an intellectual quest to untangle Christianity's greatest historical mystery.

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