Sunday, June 21, 2009

More Than a Skeleton

And so my Maier-binge comes to a close with More Than a Skeleton. This is, by far, the weakest of novels by Paul Maier, and I'll explain why I think so in a bit.

Professor Jonathan Weber is back. It's a few years after "the Rama incident" (i.e. the events of A Skeleton in God's Closet) and Weber has encountered another enigma in the person of Joshua Ben-Yosef. He is a charismatic Jewish Christian who has appeared in Israel with a small coterie of a dozen followers. Joshua at first seems to be nothing more than a charismatic preacher, elaborating on Christ's teachings. But then he starts performing miracles. He turns water to wine. He heals a blind man. He seems to have supernatural knowledge. As the world becomes aware of Ben-Yosef, more and more people wind up asking themselves, "Is this guy Jesus?" Weber finds himself embroiled in another controversy that could wind up changing the course of Christianity forever.

Like I said, this one isn't quite as strong as the other books for a variety of reasons. In some ways, Weber comes off as kind of arrogant and even a jerk at times. The plot is a bit muddled too. Maier spends the first chapter giving a much needed (if a bit harsh) critique of dispensational premillennialism, followed by a libel trial that seemed tacked on and a bit unrealistic. As things are revealed toward the end of the book, I found myself once again thinking that the whole thing is a bit too far-fetched.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a good book. Not the greatest, but when put on the balance of Maier's other excellent novels, it comes out a bit wanting.

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