"Gary T. McDonald is a born storyteller, and his research is impeccable. The book is fascinating from beginning to end, and his long-overdue, iconoclastic portrait of the Apostle Paul made me stand up and cheer."
--Lewis Shiner, author of GLIMPSES
Although I always want to tell a really good story, to me, this is genuinely more than a novel. It’s also a Gospel. And by that, I mean even more than just “Good News” which is the usual translation of “gospel.” Everything I have ever written in the past has been planned and outlined in advance. This was not. As thoroughly researched as it seems to be, it all came to me with my rational mind turned off. It was like automatic writing or a gift from the Muse or maybe from God (some will say Satan). I don’t know. I just know that it was a totally different writing experience for me.
My intention was to refute Christian fundamentalism while trying to find the wisdom in the Gospels and emphasize that. There is much in what Jesus teaches that echoes the Buddha. The sort of “Stop judging and love” theme. The blessing of peacemaking and generosity. These are things that lead to a good, happy, enlightened life.
This is the book I wished I had found when I was younger. I hope it will help others.
The Gospel of Thomas (The Younger) is a revolutionary manuscript that conjures up a vivid portrait of the First Century Greco-Roman world and its larger-than-life characters: from Jesus and his disciples, to Greek philosophers, to Roman emperors and their political confidantes. Not just a novel, it is itself a gospel—a new telling of the origins of Christianity and an explosive, visionary reinterpretation of Jesus’ teachings. Besides being an entertaining read, it is painstakingly researched using Biblical scriptures and hundreds of other historical sources.
The novel opens with a note from the “translator/editor” who introduces this newly found gospel as a genuine First Century document. Through the eyes of Thomas, a nephew of both Jesus and the disciple we now know as Doubting Thomas, we get a comprehensive and thoughtful first-hand account of the Mediterranean world at that time. Beginning with his recollections as a child, Thomas presents Jesus as a warm, charismatic, rustic philosopher schooled in the Pharisee tradition, who is regarded as a rabbi or teacher rather than a deity. However, immediately following Jesus’ death, his disciples are rife with political and personal turmoil and conflicting motives, spawning a splintering organizational and theological power struggle between Christians, Jews, Stoics, Emperors, and the Roman Legion. Through Thomas’ extensive travels we become witness to the blueprints of early Christianity, harrowing negotiations with Roman emperors, Hellenic shipwrecks, gruesome battles in the Holy Land, and, most importantly, relationships that transcend decades, empires, tribes, and bloodshed.
The Gospel of Thomas (The Younger), while telling a captivating story, also replaces a theology based on deity worship with a prescription for living a full and happy life. It offers a humanistic and secular view of Jesus and Christianity, if such a thing is possible. It shows how Christianity took a wrong turn early on and does its best to set it straight. That’s a brazenly audacious thing to attempt—trying to change a most basic element of Western civilization and culture—but McDonald has done so on these pages in an enthralling and compelling way.