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The Fifth Gospel: A Novel by Ian Caldwell

The Fifth Gospel: A Novel (edition 2015)

by Ian Caldwell (Author)

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3982626,858 (3.83)15
Title:The Fifth Gospel: A Novel
Authors:Ian Caldwell (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2015), Edition: y First printing, 448 pages
Collections:Loaned from Library

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The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell



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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 |
People are comparing this book The DaVinci Code, which was great. I would compare it to a bible studies class – for seminary students. As a recovering Catholic, the space devoted to gospel lessons was seriously overkill, and despite my Catholic upbringing, I was totally confused by all the religious workings of the Papacy. Going to Rome and doing the Vatican tour helped but I ended up doing research on the Vatican hierarchy and papal courts to try to understand it all better. The Roman Catholic-Eastern Catholics-Greek Orthodox connection and similarities is interesting but creates more religious weirdness. The biggest disappointment is the whole the Shroud of Turin debate: is it fake, is it real, who should have it, where is it now? After all the endless gospels lessons, the connection between the Diatesseron and the Shroud of Turin is left hanging, probably because the mystery hasn’t been solved in real life. But the biggest disappointment is the ending, which is a total copout, the lazy man’s way out. Of course, buying into the story in this book is based on the premise that one actually believes in the gospels and God. Ultimately, it reminded me of how screwed up organized religion is and what how much nasty stuff happens in the name of God. ( )
  sushitori | Jun 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (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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