Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Review: The Constantine Codex by Paul L. Maier

The Constantine Codex (Skeleton Series)Harvard Professor Jonathan Weber is finally enjoying a season of peace when a shocking discovery thrusts him into the national spotlight once again. While touring monasteries in Greece, Jon and his wife Shannon—a seasoned archaeologist—uncover an ancient biblical manuscript containing the lost ending of Mark and an additional book of the Bible. If proven authentic, the codex could forever change the way the world views the holy Word of God. As Jon and Shannon work to validate their find, it soon becomes clear that there are powerful forces who don’t want the codex to go public. When it’s stolen en route to America, Jon and Shannon are swept into a deadly race to find the manuscript and confirm its authenticity before it’s lost forever.

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Years ago I was one of the millions who read Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.  Initially I enjoyed the mystery and page-turning plot, but ultimately I was saddened and frustrated with the lies that it promoted within the story.  I was even more disconcerted when I saw the damage that this work of fiction was doing within the general public, causing unnecessary doubt and confusion regarding the Word of God. 

Paul Maier’s The Constantine Codex in some ways provides a better alternative to such an inaccurate, false novel.  Filled with mystery and adventure surrounding ancient Christian manuscripts, Codex may fit the bill for some readers.  It’s the third in a series from Maier, who has over five million books in print.  Following A Skeleton in God’s Closet and More Than a Skeleton, Codex is respectful of Canonical Christian scripture, but also posits an interesting notion—that there may be undiscovered writings worthy of inclusion into the Holy Bible. 

Maier also tackles the difficult topic of Christian/Islamic theological conflicts, with much of the plot centering on an internationally televised debate between main character Jon Weber and Abbas al-Rashid.  Between the drama surrounding Weber’s quests in Biblical scholarship and the international furor that is set off by the debate, there is much to cover in this novel.

While I respect Maier’s obvious education and Biblical knowledge and am grateful for such Biblically respectful intrigue, ultimately The Constantine Codex fell flat for me.  It stands on its own in the series, so starting with Book 3 was not a problem in the least.  References to previous books’ plot points were handled well.  I just found the overall execution of this story to be less compelling than I had expected.  I felt that much of the exposition to be a bit immature in tone, yet some of the scholastic topics to be so lofty I had no interest in what was being discussed. The main characters were bland and uninteresting, although I admire their positive marital relationship and loving interaction.

Despite my weak response to this novel, I do believe there is an audience for it.  My mother is an instructor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, a leading center for Christian Apologetics in the United States.  Through my interaction with SES, I’m sure that many students of apologetics, Christian debate and those who study ancient manuscripts would enjoy The Constantine Codex.  It’s a quick, clean read, and one that I certainly recommend to my Christian apologist friends.  It may not go down in the annals of history as a great Christian novel, but it would make a fun title for seminary students needing a break from dense textbooks and seemingly interminable term papers.  They may learn a thing or two, and will certainly have a little fun in the process.

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Interested in more Christian fiction?  Check out my giveaway of Thunder of Heaven!


  1. Thank you for your honest and gracious review. I noticed some of the same draw-backs in the writing, although I did enjoy the subject matter a lot.

  2. Widsith:

    I'm glad I wasn't too off-base with the opinion on the writing. And glad you enjoyed the subject matter-- it is, if anything, and interesting notion!




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