Excerpt from The Jesus Thief by J.R. Lankford, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Jesus Thief

by J.R. Lankford

The Jesus Thief by J.R. Lankford
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Mar 2003, 287 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


On the surface it was as planned—he in his white lab coat, Father Bartolo in black, the silence broken only by the slow, measured tread of their feet and the whine of cameras. From the solemnity of the few trusted observers in the hall, the casket might have held a man who died yesterday, not an image on an ancient linen cloth.

They entered the sacristy and conversations stopped.

Felix and Father Bartolo placed the casket on a long wooden table. Then Felix went to stand with his scientific team, all of them dressed in white lab coats and surgical gloves. They stood deferentially aside and made room for him. He was their superior in science, unswerving in his faith.

Not one of them would guess he was a Jew.

Until two hours ago, Felix himself hadn’t known. The word rang in his mind—the sound of it, the idea of it—and made all else recede.

He watched the priests cut the crimson ribbon, open the casket, and remove what appeared to be a bolt of crimson taffeta. When they unwound it, a faintly dank scent arose. Lifted, the taffeta revealed the Holy Shroud of Turin, its linen the color of milk-laced tea.

For a moment no one moved.

The scientists, the observers against the walls, the priests about the room, the Poor Clare nuns who’d stitched the Shroud’s special backing and would remove it, all seemed transfixed by this Sacred Linen on which so few had ever directly gazed.

Felix paid no attention to the quiet prayer being said:

O Blessed Face of my kind Savior

by the tender love

and piercing sorrow

of Our Lady as she beheld You in

Your cruel Passion,

grant us to share in this

intense sorrow and love

so as to fulfill the holy will

of God to the utmost

In his mind, he was back in his suite at the Turin Palace Hotel two hours earlier. His sister, Frances, was calling from New York to tell him Enea, their aunt, their last living relative, had died from her long illness. Before she passed away, she’d given Frances a key and a locked box full of letters—one addressed to him in his father’s hand. Stumbling over the Italian, Frances read a few over the phone—letters to their parents from relatives in Italy they’d never heard of, unmailed responses written by their mother in Italian. Over and over he heard the words Ebreo, Italian for Hebrew, Nazi and sinagoga. Felix had paced in confusion, listening to descriptions of old passports with their parents’ photos, but the passports carried an unfamiliar surname: Fubini. Eventually, Frances said the obvious aloud. Their parents had left Italy to escape the Nazis during the war because they were Jews. Why did they hide this fact? They’d come from Turin, this very town.

As the scientists went to work around him, uncovering their sterile instruments, Felix noticed that his friend, Father Bartolo, remained at the end of the table. He was a kind, frail priest who ought to be in bed. This morning, Felix had examined him in his cell and encouraged him to stay there, but Felix had known only death would keep Bartolo away. The priest’s beliefs were simple—Jesus, God’s Son, had lain under this Shroud. Bartolo’s gaze was always fixed on his own inner light of truth unless something caught his interest. Then his eyes locked on and followed. Presently they were focused on Felix. Max also watched. He was a Jewish scientist Felix had picked for the team and because of his credentials the church had quickly approved. Max lived in Turin and had taken Felix home last night to share in Max’s joy as the family named a new daughter in a touching ceremony full of music, poetry, candles, and Hebrew prayers.

Felix felt self-conscious under their gazes, as if two Gods vied for him through them. Who was he now, if not a man for whom Christ’s passion had been the guiding symbol of his life?

Copyright © 2003 Jamilla Rhines Lankford. All rights reserved. Used with permission of Great Reads Books LLC

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Lincoln in the Bardo
    Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders
    George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo is a philosophy discourse brilliantly disguised as a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Tender
    by Belinda McKeon
    Most of us have heard the slightly trite saying: "If you love something, set it free." But one can ...
  • Book Jacket
    All Tomorrow's Parties
    by Rob Spillman
    In this absorbing memoir, co-founder of Tin House magazine, Rob Spillman, recalls his artistic ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Sellout
by Paul Beatty

The first book by an American author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Fifth Petal
    by Brunonia Barry

    Beloved author Brunonia Barry returns to the world of The Lace Reader with this spellbinding new thriller.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    I See You
    by Clare Mackintosh

    A dark and compelling thriller about an everyday woman trapped in the confines of her everyday world.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.