The Treasure of Israelby S. J. Munson
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What ever happened to the treasure of the Jerusalem temple looted by the Romans in AD 70? Its fate is shrouded in mystery... Former art historian Michael Grammaticus, Jr. has inherited an ancient and dangerous secret--and it seems he is the last to know! When his parents are killed under suspicious circumstances, he travels to Rome to investigate, and the clues lead him to a fascinating world of ancient art, medieval manuscripts, and a dangerous mix of religion and international politics. Descended from an endless line of Greek scholars, he can't resist being drawn into their cryptic world, and soon the same relentless forces that destroyed his father begin to hound Michael as well. He discovers not only that his father had been an outspoken advocate for Palestinian Christians, but also that one of his ancestors was the bearer of a secret that continues to haunt his family-- a riddle regarding the whereabouts of the coveted treasure of King Herod's temple. This journey of discovery also becomes one of faith, as the cynical and disillusioned Michael undergoes a harrowing tribulation that leads him not only to the reasons for his father's death, but also to something far greater than the temple treasure itself. A delightful romp for lovers of fiction, suspense, art and ancient history-- and for anyone who ever wondered what really happened to that treasure!
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Meet the Author
S.J. Munson has been a pastor, writer and teacher for the past two decades. He received a B.A. in English from Princeton, along with a prize for fiction. The author of numerous Christian dramas, his call to fulltime ministry came while he was working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. He went on to receive an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a concentration in New Testament Greek.
�I love history and this story gave me an opportunity to weave history, faith and mystery into one story,� Munson said. �Anyone who is interested in fiction, art or ancient history will love this book.�
"There�s a lot of fiction or non-fiction out there that deals in some way with the temple treasure, the rebuilding of the temple, end-time prophecy and the State of Israel. I wanted to write a detective novel that challenges the reader both intellectually and emotionally to reexamine some dearly held assumptions in the light of history.
"The Romans looted the Jerusalem temple in AD 70, and I always wondered what became of those treasures. The Romans were such careful historians, whatever happened, there had to be a paper trail. As it turns out, the story is quite an epic. For five hundred years, the treasures survived fire, barbarian invasions and war, traveling from Jerusalem, to Rome, Carthage, Constantinople, and back to Jerusalem. Then, oddly, in the mid-sixth century, the trail goes cold. What happened after that is, of course, a source of much speculation, and that�s where fiction and imagination take over. The protagonist in my book gets caught up in the search but ends up finding something infinitely more valuable."
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On my second careful reading of this remarkable book, I came to some settled conclusions and reactions: 1. For a huge puzzle, I found not a puzzle-piece out of place. As the treasure-search genre of books expands, this quality is important. It also is an obvious treasure piece never before dealt with. This one hangs together. 2. It is altogether a safe recommendation for Christians and Jews. It may shake some .who are unfamiliar with their speckled histories. But it is tender and understanding throughout of the faith and its practices. Academia loyalists will probably be most offended. 3. It really is marvelous writing compared to the 25 feet of Christian Fiction shelves presently offered by Borders and Barnes and Noble. Its careful description of intellectual and historical realities; its super mixing of languages (the classics have probably never so appeared in a book of fiction); and its constant reminder of the settled understandings of the faith are strong points in this book. 4. This is not a "chase" book, although Hollywood could be interested (but for their usual loss of thoughtful wordage to rather concentrate on the action-chase). Yet it really does makes its way well through the impossible layouts of Rome, the Vatican and its environs, and the obliquity of its church organizations. These are always simply stated without needless confusion. I gave my copy away immediately. And I cannot remember which of 25 friends, who I know will love it, I passed it along to. Needless to say, I recommend it without reservation. Rev. Hank Keating President, Keating Christian Ministries, Inc.
This is a modern day mystery about a young man searching for answers - about his family, himself, Herod's ancient Temple treasures, and, ultimately, God, in a dangerous world of international intrigue. It's one of those books that you sacrifice sleep for, just to get through "one more chapter." I literally couldn't put it down until I had gotten to the ingenious climax, and then I wished that it were longer (I wanted to keep on reading!). The dialogue is smart and sassy and hilarious. But the author has also done painstaking research into the turbulent history of the Middle East, which he recounts in fictionalized excerpts, intertwined with the main story, as he traces the path of the Temple treasures from Titus forward. I found the characters' take on the modern Middle East and the plight of Arab Christians refreshing - and long overdue. This book does have a lot of $10 words (in English and other languages, too), but most of them you can figure out from context. I actually enjoyed that. It kept me on my toes, unlike a lot of the dumbed-down fiction that's out there. A couple of comments: I wish the author's website: www.treasureofisrael.com had been given in the book somewhere (it has great supplemental resources). Also, the next edition might include a glossary for the architectural terms used in reference to the ancient church buildings and some of the foreign words (no, you're going to have to look up "pusillanimous" on your own). Still, neither of these is necessary to enjoying the book, which is why I'm keeping it at 5 stars.
Might be a little trite to advise the reader to curl up for a good read, but that is exactly what this book provides. The story is fast past, another trite expression, but it is! Side benefit is might actually learn something-god forbid. Great characters, look forward for another tale from S. J. Munson.
I cannot believe the reviews on this book are real. I don't know what authors they normaly read. Can't put it down, ect... I was bored to sleep most of the time. I also cannot imagine what bible this theology came from. The author seems to think the old testament prophecies are all fulfilled and no longer relevant. Really I don't think the moon has turned to blood yet before the great and terrible day of the Lord. The author would try to convince us that the new testament does not speak of the temple. What about 2 Thes 2:4
The Treasures of Israel The great Jewish uprising of AD 66 gave Jewish extremists control over virtually all of Judea and the city of Jerusalem . Sensing that the extremists could become enemies of the empire, Rome, in its customary response to threats, laid siege to Jerusalem, looting and destroying the ancient city in AD 70. This is where S. J. Munson's fascinating novel, The Treasure of Israel, begins. From there, it leaps over centuries to give us the book's flashforward/ flashback format. It also gives us the principal character, a retired art historian named Michael Grammaticus, descended himself from a line of academics. Grammaticus' parents have died in an automobile accident. As the days pass, the possibility arises that the accident victims may have been murdered. This possibility takes Grammaticus into Europe in his search for the truth and into the parallel universe of the church. Like Eric Ambler's innocent Englishmen, Grammaticus enters an atmosphere in Europe that seems as sinister as the actual events. The choked, ancient cities that lie between the Vatican and Istanbul's Sophia are places created centuries ago in the grim collision of empires. Their moral wreckage shapes the conniving, intriguing, cynical humans who now inhabit them, so close that Grammaticus finds it nearly impossible to get helpful answers in his search. He also becomes entangled in his family's association down through the centuries with the biggest heist of all: the looting of Herod's treasure from the Temple before the building was destroyed in AD 70 Not since the early works of Morris West has a novel more accurately described the interplay and the tensions of the religious world and Western society. And Munson does this with a deft hand, a masterly understanding of his subjects and a sly humor that keeps the book entertaining from beginning to end. What would seem, at a glance, to be a first-time novelist dealing with a complicated subject turns out to be a writer certain of his grasp on the subject and able to tell it with a narrative power equal to the subject. Munson didn't stumble out of the beginners' stall wondering what to do next. He bounded from the stall like Native Dancer on a good day, maintained his pace and gave us, in the running, a memorable, immensely readable novel that will do for us in sunshine or in rain. What the avid reader of historical novels always needs is a well-researched, well-written novel that gives us a sense of having walked with the author into an enchanted land of his making. This, happily, is what S. J. Munson's novel does. It is not an ordinary historical novel, but one of depth and learning and style. Reading it was a pleasure. I gladly give it a 5 rating.