The Word (novel)

The Word (novel)

"The Word" is a 1972 mystery/thriller novel by Irving Wallace, which explores into the origin of the Bible.

Plot summary

The plot of the novel is based around the discovery of a new gospel written by Jesus' younger brother, James in the first century. In the gospel, many facts of Jesus' life, including the years not mentioned in the Bible, are revealed not to be as factual as they once thought to be. Steven Randall, a divorced public relations executive running his own company in New York City, is the man hired by New Testament International, an alliance of American and European Bible publishers, to give publicity to James' Gospel as published by them.

Randall, despite his success, is a man of contrasts. His wife, Barbara, is estranged from him; his father Nathan, a United Methodist Church priest in his home state of Wisconsin, derides Steven's love of alcohol, cynicism and overall lack of faith. When the novel begins, Nathan has suffered a stroke that draws Randall to him and, aside from the obvious concern about his health, Steven finds out his teenage daughter, Judy, had been expelled from school due to being caught with drugs.

Randall lived in a condo with his lover, Darlene Nicholson, whom he met sometime after separating from Barbara, and whom he considered merely interested in pleasure.

George L. Wheeler, a big-time religious publisher backed by Oklahoma millionaire Ogden Towery III (who is looking to absorb Randall's company), hires Steven on NTI's behalf to publish the new Bible project, codenamed "Resurrection 2". Wheeler warns Steven that there may be a larger threat to publication of Resurrection 2, namely Netherlands Reformed Church chief Maertin de Vroome, who is described by Wheeler as an apostate who is skeptical of miracles.

The trip to Europe

Steven finds himself on a transatlantic trip from New York to Southampton. He had initially tried to send Darlene somewhere else, but she refused to be away from him. Thus, he had to register her as his factotum, despite her mere interest in sex with him after hours. Although the ship's final destination is Le Havre, France, Steven and Wheeler need to meet Dr. Bernard Jeffries, the British scholar of Aramaic who translated the scroll's text. Jeffries tells them about the (real-life) Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus, and bemoans that his top student, Dr. Florian Knight, won't be joining him in Amsterdam as a result of personal differences.

After leaving Knight and Valerie, Steven reads the local "London Daily Courier". He finds out that Maertin de Vroome has hinted at the discovery, but that he is skeptical of its impact on the faithful.

Arriving in Amsterdam, Steven is led into the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, which serves as NTI's temporary headquarters. The security staff, led by former Interpol top guy Insp. Heldering, gives him a security clearance and specifies his responsibilities. The security detail is designed to counteract Maertin de Vroome, who is based in town, and

Randall is able to obtain a copy of the two documents, the Petronius Report scroll and the Gospel According to James, from Dr. Deichhardt, and begins to read them. There is nothing new in the Petronius Report; so Randall focuses his attention on the James gospel.

The Gospel According to James

James begins the story by stating that all the rest of the remaining family of Jesus had fled Judea, thus only he remained to talk about Jesus.

Jesus is shown as very concerned for his parents, even praying to God for the eternal rest of his adoptive father Joseph when the latter dies.

According to James, Jesus had remained alive during the Burial, although he was very weakened. An Essene physician restored him back to full health, and the Ascension had been just Jesus' vanishing act so he could continue preaching his teachings, this time going abroad, although not on Paul's travels.

James, quoting Paul, states that the real Death and Resurrection of Jesus had taken place in Rome, some twenty years after the original. The process was done in a similar way; the

Randall meets Angela

After reading the Gospel, Randall feels his faith actually increase, and he phones Barbara to tell her that he won't fight her demand for a divorce. Barbara forgives him and accepts him as a friend. Darlene, who had been listening in, appears after Steven hangs up the phone, and demands he marry her now that he's rid himself of his wife, but Steven refuses. Darlene and Steven fight verbally and Darlene ends up leaving to return to America.

To take his mind off the breakup, Randall asks Naomi to schedule meetings with the next three important people in the project: Prof. Agusto Monti in Rome; Prof. Henri Aubert, the radiocarbon dating expert in Paris, and Karl Hennig, the German Bible publisher, in Mainz. Due to a scheduling conflict, Randall agrees to meet Monti at Milan, but when he gets there, he only finds his daughter, the beautiful Angela. After talking about the project, Angela shows him around town, they hit it off and Angela actually finds herself falling for him.

In Paris, he meets Prof. Henri Aubert, who had been raised as a Catholic but later stopped practicing, only to come back under the banner of the Opus Dei. After explaining to Randall the radiocarbon dating process and its advantages and disadvantages, they meet Aubert's wife, Gabrielle, who is pregnant. Steven then crosses the border into Germany on a train to Mainz, where he meets Karl Hennig, in charge of the European edition of the NTI. Before meeting him, however, he finds that Cedric Plummer was in town, obviously trying to go straight to the source of publication. Hennig is an eccentric man, having had on/off affairs with several young socialites and an actress, but is reputed as a stern boss whose staff have differences with him. After meeting with him, however, Steven finds that Plummer, who was ironically staying at the same hotel, was planning to meet Hennig after hours anyway.

After returning to Amsterdam, he finds Angela waiting for him. They go on a date and after the day is over, they go to Steven's room and make passionate love, and Steven realizes that Angela is more than just a beautiful woman; she is very special to him.

Confrontation with de Vroome

Following a seemingly miracle

Randall's skepticism grows

The trip to Italy: Monti and Lebrun

Steven asks Angela to go to Rome and meet her father, and Angela agrees. It turns out that Prof. Agusto Monti had been insane for a year, and was confined in a mental institution. Angela apologizes to Steven for lying to him several times, and Steven forgives her. During his interview with Prof. Monti, Randall is unable to get any coherent answers to his questions; the only clues he gives him are the correct paragraph of the opening sentence of James' Gospel (which had been missing from the original scroll and Steven did not know about) and a drawing of a fish speared with a harpoon. Steven goes to see the doctor in charge, Dr. Venturi, who explains to him the meaning of the fish drawing, but not of the harpoon.

After Randall goes back to his hotel, he runs into Maertin de Vroome, who had followed him to Rome. de Vroome reveals to him that he's found out the Gospel According to James is actually a forgery made by a French expatriate, Robert Lebrun, who is living somewhere in Rome. Although Steven initially brushes it off and leaves, he then makes an effort to locate Lebrun. By coincidence, the restaurant below the hotel building is one of Lebrun's favorite hangouts, and they meet.

Lebrun tells his story. As a lifelong criminal and expert forger, French law had caught up with him, and convicted him to the Devil's Island in French Guiana, where he met a priest who thought could save him.

The trial in France


Randall returns to his routine life, only to find it unsettling because he was unable to prevent the launch of Resurrection 2. The proposed Cosmos Enterprises (Ogden Towery's zaibatsu) merger is put on hold when Towery demands he not publish any book attacking the International New Testament; all his old lovers have gone away, leaving him with only bottles of liquor and his loyal secretary Wanda, who provides sexual solace for a time, but then decides to just be friends with him. All the while, Steven pounds away at his typewriter, writing his black book on the false Bible that he once helped publish.

At last, a postcard from Rome bearing Angela's signature arrives, with a message of hope for him. He then cancels the Cosmos Enterprises merger, effectively telling Ogden Towery off; and then he contacts Jim McLoughlin, offering him to publish his work, as long as Jim agrees to read and publicize Randall's exposé.

By Christmas, Randall is back in Oak City, Wisconsin. Nathan Randall has stepped down from his position as chief priest and handed it over to Tom Carey. After Mass is over, Steven and Nathan drive around town, Steven listening to Nathan praise God for bringing the International New Testament (he refers to it as the "discovery at Ostia Antica"). and then dies in Steven's arms. At Nathan's subsequent funeral, Steven uses the same prayer attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of James to pray for his father's soul.

As he returns to his family home, he sees two female figures making a snowman. One is Judy, who greets him and keeps on playing. The other is Angela, to whom Steven declares his love. Angela reciprocates and hugs him, and Steven then realizes that she is the one he'd never let go.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Word — may mean:*The Word (band), a blues/jam rock group * The Word (film) or Ordet , a 1955 Danish film * The Word (novel), a novel by Irving Wallace * The Word (radio), a weekly BBC World Service book programme * The Word (song), a song by The Beatles …   Wikipedia

  • The Choirboys (novel) — The Choirboys is a tragicomic parody about the effects of urban police work on young officers, seen through the exploits of a group of Los Angeles police officers in the Wilshire Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. A group of ten… …   Wikipedia

  • The End (novel) — The End   …   Wikipedia

  • The Castle (novel) — This article is about the German novel by Franz Kafka. For other uses, see The Castle (disambiguation). K. redirects here. For the chronological list of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart compositions, see Köchel catalogue. For other uses, see K… …   Wikipedia

  • The Coronation (novel) — This article is about the Boris Akunin novel. For the 17th century play, see The Coronation (play). The Coronation   …   Wikipedia

  • The Possessed (novel) — Infobox Book name = The Possessed (aka The Devils or Demons ) title orig = Бесы translator = Constance Garnett (1916) Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (1995) image caption = Pevear Volokhonsky Translation of Demons author = Fyodor… …   Wikipedia

  • The Waterworks (novel) — infobox Book | name = The Waterworks title orig = translator = author = E. L. Doctorow cover artist = country = United States language = English series = genre = Postmodern Historical novel publisher = Random House release date = 1994 media type …   Wikipedia

  • The Clique (novel) — Articleissues expert=Novel tone=February 2008 cleanup=June 2008Infobox Book name = The Clique image caption = First edition cover (later printing) author = Lisi Harrison country = United States language = English series = The Clique Series genre …   Wikipedia

  • The Gambler (novel) — Infobox Book | name = The Gambler title orig = Igrok translator = image caption = Everyman Library edition of The Gambler author = Fyodor Dostoevsky illustrator = cover artist = country = Russia language = Russian language series = genre = Novel… …   Wikipedia

  • The Alchemist (novel) — For similarly named works, see Alchemist (disambiguation). The Alchemist   …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”