- June 17th, 2010
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My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The Amen Heresy is a conspiracy thriller in the same vein as The Da Vinci Code and The Last Templar. Instead of an evil cabal within the Catholic Church, however, it’s an evil cabal of individuals from all book based faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). The head honcho from each faith in Jerusalem have united as “The One” to combat the imminent announcement of a Jewish scholar’s research into the alleged true origins of all three faiths: An ancient Egyptian monotheistic worship of the sun under pharaoh Akhenaten. A faith, that even in it’s own time was controversial among the polytheist Egyptians who quickly forced the cult out of power after the pharaoh’s death. The research also alleges that there was no Abraham who fathered the Hebrews, only Egyptian priests of “Amen” (the sun) who inspired the Joseph and Moses characters of the Bible who led worshippers into Palestine.
The real threat is not the alternative history, but the fact that this “rediscovered” religion advocates a belief that there is no God but the “god” inside each of us, pointing the way to enlightenment, represented by the life-giving sun (well, maybe. It’s not entirely clear what is the book’s message). There’s certainly no room for organized religion, which is a threat to “The One” who must stop the professor at all costs.
After eliminating the professor, they discover his key research is missing and assume it’s with a recently arrived American colleague who had been assisting in some translations. They’re partly right. As his enemies closed in, he mailed a clue to the American as to where to find the critical info.
From there the story is fairly formulaic of the genre. The hero of the story, a former Catholic priest, is a spiritually broken man in need of redemption. The love interest, a beautiful agent of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, assists him along with a scrappy Palestinian street urchin in the search for a hither unknown and missing piece of The Copper Scroll (a famous Dead Sea Scroll) which will prove to the world the professor’s assertions.
William Muulenfeld is well read and has thoroughly researched his material (the historical references and theories are factual) but just as with other books of this ilk, one must take the premise with a grain of salt when considering that virtually any data can be presented in such a way as to arrive at any desired conclusion. Also, though Muhlenfeld is a capable and entertaining writer (excepting a few writing style idiosyncrasies), it seemed he was trying to one-up his predecessors (more graphic sex, villains with stranger characteristics and perversions).
If you liked The Da Vinci Code or any other book that bashes organized religion you’ll probably enjoy The Amen Heresy. If you are purely looking for a thriller that uses historical clues for solving mysteries, you’ll be mildly entertained. If you’re easily offended by faith bashing, this probably isn’t for you.