When you read the summary below, I have a pretty good idea of what most of you might be thinking. Thing is, this book was a lot more interesting and discussion sparking than it’s description or genre usually are. Hang with me here, read the description and then I will tell you why it’s different.
A murder at the Taj Mahal. A kidnapping in a sacred city. A desperate chase through a cliffside monastery. All in the pursuit of a legend that could link the world’s great religious faiths.
In 1887, a Russian journalist made an explosive discovery in a remote Himalayan monastery only to be condemned and silenced for the heresy he proposed. His discovery vanished shortly thereafter.
Now, graduate student Grant Matthews journeys to the Himalayas in search of this ancient mystery. But Matthews couldn’t have anticipated the conspiracy of zealots who would go to any lengths to prevent him from bringing this secret public. Soon he is in a race to expose a truth that will change the world’s understanding of religion. A truth that his university colleagues believe is mere myth. A truth that will change his life forever—if he survives.
Okay, you’re back. The Breathe of God reeks of that genre created by Dan Brown and movies like National Treasure. Smart professor is sent on a quest where he has to solve clues/puzzles in order to find some doodad, yadda, yadda, yadda. It is that, but the subject matter goes a lot deeper than most I have read.
What makes it different is that the main character, Grant Matthews, isn’t just on a quest for something that is near and dear to one group of people, like the books and movies I already mentioned. What Matthews is after goes a long way in explaining the similarities in all the religions of the world.
Are you a Bible person? Have you ever noticed that there is a huge chunk of years missing from the description of the life of Jesus? He had his miraculous birth and then pretty much disappeared until he was 30 and started his ministry.
What Mathews is searching for is a series of texts that just might portray what Jesus was doing and where he went for those missing years. According to the legend, the Issa texts, were written by Jesus while he was on a journey through India, Tibet, and Bhutan where he studied different religions and became, I guess you could say, enlightened.
Those texts could be huge. It would mean that Christianity, as we know it, was majorly influenced by other religions, like Buddhism, Hinduism, and even Islam. In the book, there is a huge group of people that don’t want to think of Jesus learning from other religions, like Fundamental Christians.
What got me excited as I read was Small’s obvious understanding and respect of all of the religions of the world. Instead of going the simple route, and making his story about the search for an icon in one specific religion like many authors have, he let his knowledge of many religions tell a story. Each new character enters the story, telling a bit about his or her faith in a way that was really approachable and easy to digest.
So, if you can get past the whole tried and true formula, The Breath of God has so much to offer. It made me feel like I was back in Comparative Religions class; only since I knew that I wasn’t going to be graded, it was a whole lot more fun. A suspense title that sneaks in a bit of learning and makes me look at everyone in the world in a more open and accepting light? Priceless.
The Breath of God by Jeffrey Smalls