BW3 and Spouse Co-Author an Historical Novel about Jim West

Mike Bird has the news:

The Lazarus Effect (with Ann Witherington)

Archaeologist . . . West makes the discovery of a lifetime in Jerusalem finding the tombstone of Lazarus, which indicates that Jesus raised him from the dead. But before he can make public his amazing discovery, the stone is stolen, sold to the British Library, and West is implicated in an antiquities fraud that will lead to a trial. West’s Jewish and Muslim friends in Jerusalem rally to support West’s innocence and to help find the thief who stole the stone, but then West is shot and in critical condition in a Jerusalem hospital. Can the truth be discovered in time, and West’s life be saved? And what was on that Aramaic scroll that was found in Lazarus’s coffin? In this fast-paced thriller, Ben Witherington, himself a NT scholar with a degree in English literature, together with his wife, Ann, introduces us to the life of an archaeologist and NT scholar and his trials and tribulations when a big find comes to light. Set in the always volatile city of Jerusalem, the Witheringtons reveal the fascinating hidden dimensions of multi-religious life in that Holy Place, and show how even today Christians, Jews, and Muslims can work together so the truth may come to light, and all may experience “the Lazarus Effect”new life from the dead.

Amazing! The novel is forthcoming from Wipf & Stock. The events described above surely explain why Jim is such a rabid minimalist. Who, after dedicating themselves to the pursuit of biblical archaeology, making such an enormously significant discovery, and being so brutally double-crossed, would want to remain linked to maximalism in any way whatsoever? Please do yourself a favor and pick up this volume as soon as it becomes availableit behooves us all to become conversant with the life and times of the Boss Tweed of Biblioblogdom.


18 responses to “BW3 and Spouse Co-Author an Historical Novel about Jim West

  1. I read some of the drafts online on BW3’s blog. BW3 is none too flattering in his depiction of Jews, but worse, his novelistic style make Dan Brown look good. The good news is despite these problems, it is still a better read than Pilgrim’s Progress (damnation by faint praise, I know.)

    Frankly, Christian fiction has been going downhill since Dante.


  2. Iyov> Oh, in that case, BW3 must be yet more fictional than Dan Brown, who, as we recently learned from Umberto Eco, is but a character from Foucault’s Pendulum!

    I had no intention of picking up the book, of course, but based on your judgement, which I trust completely, I will now know to caution less discriminating friends.

    Also, I agree with your comments on Christian fiction after Dante, but I must note that clearly it experienced an unexpected renaissance with the 2001 publication of Right Behind. ;-)

    Jim> What?! Your permission wasn't sought?!

    And poor soul! Yes, yes, Jim–the ossuary is fictional. Of course. Oh, how my heart breaks at the pain you must have suffered, and which now makes you a minimalist! ;-) PS: Did the Lazarus tombstone (or scroll? which is it?) also state that Lazarus was the author of the Fourth Gospel?


  3. my very, very, very jewish lawyer has directed me to tell folks to take such questions to him which he will then take into account for the multi gazillion bazillion dollar suit.


  4. Iyov> I must admit that Dante set the bar pretty high, but surely you'll agree that Dostoevsky wrote some good things?


  5. Jim> You trouble maker!

    Aaron> Dostoyevsky was brilliant, but Dante dizzyingly so. (But then, I'm really no fan of the 19th-century novel!)


  6. “PS: Did the Lazarus tombstone (or scroll? which is it?) also state that Lazarus was the author of the Fourth Gospel?”

    Yes, Esteban, that is the scroll did, in the drafts which I read on BW3’s blog, and are still online starting here. Writing a novel about it is an interesting way to promote a supposedly scholarly theory! Even Dan Brown didn’t really do that, although he was accused of it.

    But BW3’s “Arthur James West” (those are actually the first three words of Chapter One) comes out amazingly well in the story, almost as if Ben wasn’t thinking of Jim at all.


  7. Sorry to interrupt but did you get my email?

    I’d like to read Dostoyevsky someday but there’s too much else to read.


  8. Esteban> Is your problem with the 19th-c. novel to do with the general run of its content, or with the generic qualities it exhibits? I'm all ears if it's the latter you wish to complain about.


  9. When BW3 was posting excerpts of this on his blog last year I thought, "Man, this really isn't worth my attention." When he announced it at a greatly discounted price yesterday I thought, "Man, this isn't worth my money." When Wipf & Stock sent the email this morning asking if I wanted a review copy I thought, "Man, this isn't worth my time or effort." I said all that to say that I don't think this archeological thriller is worth much. This will go on the 'stuff not to read' list along with Žižek, 99% of theoblogs, and seafood restaurant menus. ;-)


  10. i am utterly aghast! nick, you don’t like seafood? you’re a troubled young man. i was willing to overlook your pentecostalism, your love of rap, and even your mean anti-jim hatefulness (though it pales in comparison with peter’s)- but not to like seafood????? that’s just the last straw.



  11. Jim,

    I can’t help that the good Lord created me with palate so advanced that I’m able to discern the utterly horrendous flavors inherent in any/everything that lives under water. ;-)


  12. I began reading Russian works in the original when I was 14, and I loved the works of Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский, and in particular read Записки из подполья in the original. Nonetheless, Nabakov’s excellent Lectures in Russian Literature (which I recommend, along with the other volumes in Nabakov’s “lecture note trilogy”: Lectures on Literature and Lectures on Don Quixote) applies the knife to Dostoevskii and not unjustly, in my opinion. Compared with the other giants considered by Nabakov (Chekhov, Gorki, Gogol, Tolstoy, Turgenev). The list of those who surpass Dosteovskii certainly includes Bulgakov and Pushkin.

    Nonetheless, while Dostoevskii certainly deals with Christian themes (and criticizes Christianity), I would not consider his works to be Christian fiction. (See the brilliant Doestoevsky and the Christian Tradition.) Dostoevskii is an author of Christian fiction in the way that H. P. Lovecraft is an author of Christian fiction.


  13. barth’s friend thurneysen wrote a book on dostoevsky that folk might want to get hold of.

    (filed under the ‘there’s nothing new under the sun or anything that hasn’t already been hashed over before you were born’ category)


  14. Iyov> Clearly, I have invoked D's name in the presence of the wrong man. I have not read him in the original, nor have I kept up with Dostoevskii studies (I've seen the 'Christian Tradition' book you mention, but have not read it). I read Nabokov's 'Lectures', but felt that his criticisms of D actually were unjust. Of course, this was 10 years ago now, and I was just a punk kid! I published a paper that took a very high view of D as Christian novelist, but I've since revised my opinion in many ways. Nevertheless, I'm still puzzled. In exactly what way was the great Lovecraft an author of Christian fiction? I guess I haven't kept up with Lovecraft studies either!


  15. I hardly ever read novels, I just go and watch the movie. But I was considering buying this one.

    But when Nick declared that it was not worth is attention, money, and he even turned out a free copy to review.

    Well, I guess I won’t be reading this one as well.


  16. I really need to write a post about Lovecraft sometime, but he deals with issues of faith, destiny, evil, and good. I would argue that Lovecraft too has a Grand Inquisitor scene, with a starkly different result.

    PS: Originally, I was going to make a comparison with Dicken’s Christmas ghost stories — of which the most famous is “A Christmas Carol”. As I revised the comment, I realized that a comparison with Lovecraft (who is now part of the literary canon) was more dramatic.


  17. Peter> NO! Seriously?! And here I thought I was just making a hilarious joke! Also, any book that starts with the full name of its main character loses me as a reader at that point.

    As for how well the main character fares in the novel, well, I imagine that the Witheringtons were thinking of poor Jim's psychological well-being in not providing a picture of his sad, post-treason minimalistic reality. ;-)

    Aaron> The latter, of course. I'm thoroughly allergic to such. I tried and tried (O ye vile Comparatists among whom I once dwelt!), but I couldn't get past the matter of form. Of course, there are exceptions.

    Nick> Yet another reason to disregard the book!

    Jim> I'm afraid I must agree with Nick there, and I grew up (and as of today live) in an island! ;-)

    Iyov> I think Nabokov's critique of Dostoyevsky in the Lectures (which I revisited recently) is indeed unjust, but one that is completely understandable in view of his theoretical framework (which I reject). As for myself, I would certainly classify Dostoyevky’s works as “Christian fiction,” and I think that criticism in general has failed to appreciate (or better, grasp) the deeply religious (and specifically, Orthodox Russian) vein of his work. Many thanks, though, for bringing to my attention Dostoevsky and the Christian Tradition–I have shared the bibliographical information with my chief dialog partner on this subject, whose doctoral work at the University of St Petersburg focused precisely on the interpretation of Dostoyevsky in Russian criticism.

    Robert> If this post has dissuaded you from buying the novel, then it was not published in vain. ;-)


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