Friday, June 8, 2012

The Jesus Gospel by Osman Kartal

 Osman Kartal's religious conspiracy genre of novels appear to center around a main  purpose to discredit large established religions.  His elaborate works of fiction are best described as a unique hybrid of a spy story and religious intrigue; whereas  history, fiction and myth are rolled together into one.  Kartal's newest work, The Jesus Gospel, centers around the common fascination  with the so-called elusive deuterocananical and apocrypha  literature.  The hero, an educated, ruthless, modern young man, finds himself caught up in an international government and religous conspiracy to hide an ancient papyrus scroll supposedly written by Jesus during his lifetime on Earth. 

Historically, there are countless claims that other "gospels" exist- this is perpetuated in fiction and movies. These  ancient documents are best described as pseudepigrapha works which essentially means- it is written by an anonymous author (perhaps even an anonymous ancient writer) who took on the name of an apostle and attempted to pass it off as authentic.  These are fraudulent documents, in that they claim to be by the authentic source.  They are, in essense, the equivalent to the ancient tabloid.  They may be interesting to read supplying the reader with "answers"- but they are false nonetheless. Many are written to fill alleged gaps in the biblical or ancient record.  In fact, Kartal alludes to alleged inconsistencies and riddles when making refernces to the New Testament, early in his book. He draws the attention of the reader to arbitrary portions of the bible, claiming that there is an "untold" story or truth out there- perhaps even  leading the reader to believe that there must be another written record or gospel to fill in the missing pieces.  For example on page 41, Kartal draws the reader's focus to the gospel account where Jesus is depicted as writing on the sand.  Instead of sharing the intended lifesaving message about forgiveness, he asks the reader to focus on an insignificant part of the story, drawing attention to  the so-called mystery of what Jesus inscribed in the sand. The focus is on what is not explicitly stated or written.  In essense, Osman  is asking the reader to speculate or create his or her own fantasy or myth or theory of what Jesus may have or perhaps should have written. Additionally, Kartal uses his concordance to find all references to the the word "dust" elsewhere in the bible.  He then correlates an unrelated old testament passage with the account of Jesus writing in the "dust".  Next thing you know- Kartal has created his own religious theory or doctrine, by arbitrarily linking an old testament account to a new testament account. This is very clever.  This is exactly what many cults do when forming new heretical doctriness! This in fact the fuel that the ancient writers or plagerists used to create and perpetuate their false gospels.  They preyed on the curiosity of public.  They questioned the accuracy of the biblical accounts as if more information was needed.   In ancient  and midevil times, it was common that an  anonymous writer's work would be purposely or unintentially  misrepresented or falsely depicted as an authentic apostle who wrote a record. For example, consider the popularity of the  gospel according to Peter and Thomas or the writings of Enoch attests to this.  In fact entire cultic religions are build on similar claims such as the Gospel of Abraham in the Mormon church or the letters included in the Koran.  There are many pieces of fiction literature that center around the "what if" theories and consequences. There are many new cultic religions formed throughout history, based on the what is stories that seek to solve "mysteries" or "gaps" in biblical literature. They prey on human curiosity and the desire for an easy explanation.

This new novel is the Muslim equivalent to the popular Dan Brown novel that served to attempt to undermine the bible,   Under the umbrella of "historical" fiction, the author presents to the reader, a conspiracy theory in which a so-called gospel, allegedly written by Jesus, was  purposely concealed by religious authorities. This is a complex work of fiction and myth that combines some authentic historical details with religious myth. This eccentric writer presents his conspiracy theories of hidden gospels- specifically, the so called lost gospel of Jesus as a plausible theory. He does this first by manipulating the thinking process of the reader to focus on alleged mysteries and riddles of the New testament.  In fact, the same readers that actually believed Dan Brown's intricate tales of church intrigue and conspiracy theories in the fictional novel, The Davinci Code, may be the very same gullible readers who may believe that Osman Kartal's stories and theories, about a missing gospel written by Jesus, are in fact real. This detailed writing and insertion of historical figures and geographic places may make this work seem almost plausible to many readers. One problem is that the public eye often associates Christianity in general with the Roman Catholic church.  Therefore any indiscretions of specific figures of the Chruch are erroneously applied to the bible and biblical Christianity in general.  Kartal, in essense is considering the possibility if Christianity was in fact built upon a lie.  The implcations would be extreme- and it would have the power to change modern society as we know it.  Obviously, one can easily see the appeal of this to the secular world and atheists alike.  
This book is an interesting attempt at an anti- ecumenical movement- perhaps an attempt to bridge together dissatisfaction and undermining the authority with all the major feuding religions. After discrediting the established motives behind Islam, and Christianity, his next target may be Judiasm. The author is fair in that he does not simply target one religion.  The pseudo-historical ideas and historical-like scenes make the story seem almost plausible. The problem is that many readers, who are largely ignorant when it comes to theology and history, will have trouble sorting fact and fiction. If one takes the time to dissect this work of fiction, you get a recipe or how-to book on how to not only discredit a religion but how to make a new one to boot!  I received a free copy of this book for review from the author and the ideas expressed are my own.

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