Tom Bohannon is the director of the Bowery Mission in New York City. While remodeling, a room is discovered to be hidden behind the old pipe organ. In this room, what appears to be an ancient scroll is discovered. Tom takes his discovery to his brother-in-law, Joe, who works at the New York Library. Joe in turn consults a co-worker, Sam, to see if he can decipher the writing on the scroll. They discover the writing is in an ancient, dead language and their only hope of translating it lies with Dr. Richard Johnson, a mortal enemy Tom made while Tom was in his old profession of investigative news reporter. Tom humbles himself and contacts Dr. Johnson. The two put their differences aside to solve the mystery. Soon, one of Richard's former students becomes involved as well.
Their extensive research and fact-finding leads them to a fantastic treasure if the scroll is genuine. They feel that it is, especially after two members of the group have their lives attempted to be ended. The message leads them to Jerusalem, specifically the Temple Mount. Tom, a devout Christian, feels like God has called him to this mission. The other members for one reason or another are equally dedicated to see the mission through to the end. Are they really going to try to explore under the Temple Mount? How are they going to accomplish this impossible task? Will they really find what they're looking for? The team travels to Jerusalem and soon discovers there are many enemies who will try to keep them from their mission at any cost, even their very lives.
The story starts off a little slow for the first half of the book with too much back and forth before getting to Jerusalem, causing the story to drag. I appreciated the history lessons and found them interesting, but there was a little too much and it bogged down the flow of the story. Once in Jerusalem though the action takes off and I couldn't put the book down. I just loved seeing Tom come to the end of himself and put his faith in God that He would provide. He lives out his faith for Richard and Joe to see. Richard is a nonbeliever and Joe is a "lapsed catholic". Tom's integrity and strength to do what God called him to do is admirable. What do they discover? Well, you'll have to read the story to find out if their discovery is explosive bomb with end time implications or merely a sparkle that fizzles out.
In this end times novel, an ancient scroll is found in a secret room under the New York Bowery Mission. Tom, executive director of the mission, assembles a group of historians and scientists to decode the mysterious writing. When the message is revealed, the team heads to Jerusalem to find the hidden but very real third temple.
I found the novel a combination of interesting and informative history and contemporary Middle East politics. The Author's Note at the end indicates much of the novel is based on documented history and relatively current events. You may want to read the Author's Note first so you have an idea of the historical basis as you read the novel.
Those who enjoy reading speculative end times novels will enjoy this one. The events set up the possibility of the Lord's near return. I did find the premise of the third temple to be a little far fetched and a bit too unrealistic for me. I do prefer a book with intense action and I found in this novel the action was often prolonged - the writing could have been tighter. I found the dialog, addressing an individual by name every time, was tiresome.
I did take away from this novel a renewed sense of the tension in the Middle East, especially over the control of the Temple Mount, and the history behind it.
"The Sacred Cipher" by Terry Brennan, was my first jaunt into the genre of Biblical archeological fiction. The classic example, I'm told, is Paul Maier's "A Skeleton in God's Closet". As a "Bible geek", who enjoys studying biblical languages and following the history of Biblical texts, I thoroughly enjoyed this work. It's hard to believe that this is truly Brennan's first novel.
The story centers on a discovery, in an old New York mission building of an ancient scroll written in an unknown script. Tom Bohannon, the director of the Bowery Mission, gets swept up in the effort to decipher the mysterious scroll. Drawing on his journalistic background and his connections within academia, Tom begins to unravel the scroll's secrets. Along the way it becomes more and more obvious that others are interested in the scroll, and they will do anything to possess it.
The fast-paced plot will keep you on the edge of your seat, as the story takes you from New York to Jerusalem and beyond. Along the way you'll discover mountain hideouts and underground caverns, secret rooms and secret messages, ancient tunnels and very contemporary security measures. The book holds something for the average fiction reader, but especially thrills the arm-chair archeologist. Anyone interested in ancient languages and historical puzzles will be intrigued by Brennan's well-researched adventure.
When the story moves to Jerusalem, the scroll's secrets threaten to undue the fragile peace of the region. When you pick up this book, you too won't have any peace until you finish it! It's that good!
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Kregel Publishers for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Renovations were underway at the historic Bowery Mission in New York City and by chance, the construction workers came across a hidden room behind the organ pipes of the chapel. Tom Bohannan, executive director of the mission quickly realizes that what they've discovered is the office of Dr. Louis Klopsch, the first president of the Bowery mission. While the office has the traditional furnishings you'd expect, the one piece of furniture that stands out is a large ornate safe. After a bit of searching through Klopsch's desk and file cabinets, Tom discovers the safe's combination. Much to his surprise, the safe is filled to the brim with books, scrolls, manuscripts, and the like. The most unique item in the safe is an ornate mezuzah containing a five by twenty four inch scroll. The writing on the scroll is in a script that Bohannan and his brother-in-law do not recognize. Accompanying the mezuzah was a letter from Charles Spurgeon to Dr. Klopsch warning that there are men who will kill to posses the very scroll that they held in their hands. Their curiosity peaked, Bonannan and his brother-in-law Joe Rodrigurez embark on a journey to uncover the meaning of this mysterious scroll. The deeper they dig, the more dangerous things will get. Their journey will take them from the streets of New York City all way around the world to the city of Jerusalem. What they uncover could be the greatest archaeological discovery of all time. However, it may also be the last straw in the constant struggle between the warring factions in the Middle East.
If you're a fan of archaeological fiction, you need to read The Sacred Cipher. Terry Brennan's engaging style will keep you on the edge of your seat as you work your way through all of this book's 352 pages. This well researched work of fiction will be enjoyable for the both the academic reader as well as the armchair archaeologist. This book was truly a pleasure to read and deserves a rating of five out of five stars.
Terry Brennan has had an extensive career in journalism, winning several awards, including the Valley Forge Award for editorial writing from the Freedoms Foundation. Terry served eleven years as the vice president of operations for the Bowery Mission in New York City and is currently a management consultant
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Kregel Publications for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
The Sacred Cipher by Terry Brennan has one of the most intriguing and captivating opening sequences that Ive ever read. Immediately plunging into a world of mystery, intrigue, and yes danger, Brennan takes us into the life of Tom Bohannon as he works to discover the hidden secrets of a long-hidden scroll that leads him beneath Jerusalem to a discovery that will change the world.Though Brennan did lose me in some of his more directionally-oriented passages that describe directions, dimensions, navigation etc. (this is a common reading challenge for me), I was glued to the pages of The Sacred Cipher definitely in for the ride. His work is fun conceptually (whether we think the storyline is probable or not), and has tie-ins with biblical end-times world prophecy.I also enjoy reading novels where the author clearly writes himself into the story in a prominent way. Not only does our heros name mirror that of the author (T.B.) but he is also writing from life experiences when both he and his hero serve/have served at the Bowery Mission of New York City. Our hero also has a strong Christian worldview, and an ongoing personal faith relationship that is evident throughout the book as he depends upon his Father for guidance and protection. His faith also comes into play during his discussions with his skeptical companion.If you enjoy reading code breaking, archeologically oriented adventure stories, add Brennan to your list of authors to checkout, I think youll enjoy his writing.