Book review: The Gatekeepers
by Stephen Moss
Here is a novel that will be talked about for a long time. Moss doesn’t pull punches as he exposes religion’s dark underbelly, and readers may feel him teetering on the edge between insightful and cynical. I vote for both, and the blend is captivating.
Two primary themes run throughout the book. In a conference at Georgetown University, scholars debate the origins of the Jesus movement and a discovery within the pages of the Bible that may rock the Christian world. Biblical evidence begins to mount that Paul of Tarsus appropriated Jesus for his own purpose, and Moss leads us slowly to this conclusion.
Moss’s Jesus is apocalyptic and his Paul is capitalistic. Jesus’ message may be hopelessly mired in first-century dreams of a rebellion against Rome, but Paul found a way to turn Jesus into a prophet, a timeless discovery which continues to be refined by evangelical entrepreneurs to this very day.
As the conference discussion ensues, in another part of the world we meet Reverend Hamilton, a colorful, explosive manipulator driven by greed. He epitomizes the end product of the course set in motion two millennia ago by Paul. Hamilton is hopelessly corrupt, yet believable as he wreaks havoc among all who surround him. But deception and indifference take their toll, and the Reverend’s world swirls inevitably toward disaster.
Moss’s follow-the-money Bible research leads to an unorthodox blend of conservative and liberal scholarship, but while his conclusion is highly controversial, it is also undeniably thought-provoking. The fiction is superb: a captivating plot, vibrant characters, and a fascinating, timely topic.
I guarantee The Gatekeepers will hold you spellbound.