The Fire Gospel
By Michel Faber
(Canongate Us, Hardcover, 9781847671837, 213pp.)
Publication Date: January 2009
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Theo Griepenkerl, a Canadian linguistics scholar, is sent to Iraq in search of artifacts that have survived the destruction and looting of the war. While visiting a museum in Mosul, he finds nine papyrus scrolls tucked in the belly of a bas-relief sculpture: they have been perfectly preserved for more than two thousand years. After smuggling them out of Iraq and translating them from Aramaic, Theo realizes the extent of his career-making find, for he is in possession of the Fifth Gospel, and it offers a shocking and incomparable eyewitness account of Christ’s crucifixion and last days on Earth. Nakedly ambitious and recently dumped by his girlfriend, Theo sets out to share his discovery with the world in the form of a headline-grabbing U.S. book tour. Caught in the throes of his newfound fame, Theo fails to consider the global and cultural ramifications his discovery will have with God-fearing folks and religious zealots worldwide. Like Prometheus’s gift of fire, Theo’s book has incendiary consequences. A hugely entertaining, and by turns shocking story, The Fire Gospel is a smart, stylish, and suspenseful novel by the celebrated author of The New York Times best seller The Crimson Petal and the White.