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The Mystery of Mar Saba by James H. Hunter
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The Mystery of Mar Saba

by James H. Hunter

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The Mystery of Mar Saba by James H. Hunter is a novel during the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany about a plot to destroy Britain by destroying Christianity. The book revolves around a secret cult, "the Hooded Ones," attempting to forge a document referred to as "the Shred of Nicodemus," which refutes the Resurrection. The hope is that the documents release will demoralize the British empire making it easier for Hitler to conquer Europe. Since I know of 27 copies (my copy and a scant 26 available online) I can spoil a bit of the mystery and say the forger works and the British Empire and the United States are thrown into disarray. Don't worry though this wouldn't be a mystery if we didn't have our Heroes Alderson (the Chief of police of the Palestine Police), Medhurst (Alderson's old army buddy), Dennis (Medhurst's servant and army buddy) and a few others on the team. We also have our damsel Natalie Ypantis. There are also the evil villain's Professor Heimworth, Abid of the Scar (a classic villain's name if there ever was one) and their pose of "the Hooded Ones".

Let's get the formalities over with. This book is anti-German (Heimworth), anti-Muslim (the Scar and "the Hooded Ones", pro Israel, and the author believes the British empire (and the United States) are Christian nations which would fail if their faith failed. These ideas would be normal in 1940 when the novel was published (my review is only 68 years behind). Today the anti-Arab I would have to assume the action scenes in the book are on par with the 1940's style, people get shot and leave no blood behind. The book is overtly Christian, one of the hero's becomes a Christian, something the damsel and our other hero's already are. The amount of Christianity in the books is almost overwhelming, that is do from the modern style which prefers to have a Christian character in a book and The Mystery of Mar Saba which is a Christian book through and through. The book isn't well written, each character has several names, nicknames, secret identities which become a bit hard to follow. At times in the book the reader is forced to reread a passage because it doesn't make sense and it continues not to make sense when re-read. A few of these points are major holes in the plot of the book where characters and stories disappear.

If The Mystery of Mar Saba were written today it could be a good movie worthy book but as it stands not enough people have heard of the book. An updated version on the heals of the Da Vinci Code may have done well. When it was published the book was popular, it was reprinted 12 times over three decades.
However, Most Google references to The Mystery of Mar Saba discuss the parallels between the plot of the book and Morton Smith's discovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark at... Mar Saba (I bet you didn't see that coming). The story and controversy of Morton Smith's discovery is perhapes more exciting than The Mystery of Mar Saba and about the only thing spurring readers to pick up the book 68 years after it was published. Robert Price, a theologian, first proposed a link between the two plots hinting that Morton may have read The Mystery of Mar Saba and based his forgery of it's plot (his thoughts are recounted in a response to Canada National Post Article, the response is written by Ian Hunter, son of James H. Hunter. I picked up and read the The Mystery of Mar Saba after hearing about Morton's discovery after listening to a lecture by Bart Ehrman. Maybe you should pick up a copy. ( )
  kurtabeard | Jan 16, 2008 |
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