Reviewer Sandra Shwayder Sanchez: Sandra is
a retired attorney and co-founder of a small non-profit publishing
collective: The Wessex Collective with whom she has published two short fiction collections
(A Mile in These Shoes and Three Novellas) and one
Her most recent novel, The Secret of A Long Journey is soon to be released by Floricanto Press in April 2012 and her first novel, The Nun, originally published by Plain View Press in 1992 is being reissued in a 2nd Edition with additional material by PVP in March 2012.
Author: Osman Kartal
Author: Osman Kartal
This work of fiction draws on several little known
historical sources to offer an alternative theory of the
establishment and development of two of the world’s major
religions: Christianity and Islam. It begins with alternating
chapters about two orphaned children, Sergius and Mohammed (yes that
Mohammed) and follows their growth and development until they meet,
meet again and become united in the founding of both a religion and a
The story of Sergius contains some shockingly graphic
descriptions of sexual depravity that the reader might prefer to skip
as this reader did, but then I realized that the author was not so
much seeking to titillate as to demonstrate the seriousness caused by
the combination of lechery and power: a kind, compassionate and wise
man is so thoroughly distracted by his own lust he brings down upon
himself a painful punishment and, even worse, his actions bring down
the brutality of the Vatican upon his harem of nuns and their
After punishment, Sergius is cast out and sent to Arabia where he finds Mohammed and guides him in the establishment of the Muslim religion. In the telling of Mohammed’s story as well, the book is as much a demonstration of social psychology as it is a description of historical theory. It is this alternative history (reminding me of Howard Zinn’s enlightening history of the United States of America) as well as passages about political philosophy that attracted me to this book. I had not before heard about the small secret groups of monks who attempted to pass along the actual legacy of a Rabbi, Jesus, who left his own gospel that ultimately was suppressed in the establishment of that powerful state, the Vatican.
“He read again of the Roman persecution of the Christians. Emperor Diocletian called himself Jovius, Jupiter’s representative on Earth. It was Jovious who divided the Roman Empire into two halves, the Eastern and the Western. It was Jovius who destroyed Christian scripts. The Roman gods had to predominate. Christianity was a threat to the very existence of Rome.
Then came Constantine, first head of the Eastern Empire. Early on, he was tolerant of the Christians. When he became Emperor in AD324, he changed, purging all Christian writings that did not conform with his model of Empire. Christ the man, championing the rights of man, was an even greater threat to Constantine than Christianity to Diocletian.
So Constantine chose those Gnostic Gospels that
fitted the Empire’s view of Christianity. The greatest
Gnostic, the Jew, Philo of Alexandria, who spoke of Jesus as a social
reformer, became but a footnote. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark,
Luke and John were much more attractive. Central to their writings
was sacrifice in this life as the path to salvation. Suffer in this
life for fulfillment in the next. A population subdued by their own
free will. Which Emperor would give away such an advantage?
Christianity became the lever of government, more powerful than all
the laws of the Senate of Rome.” (p.87)
While Mohammed’s personal story is not quite as dramatic (or perhaps I should traumatic) as the story of his scribe, it is of equal historical interest. To anyone who has ever wondered how the man who preached forgiveness, love and mercy would respond to such atrocities as the Crusades and the Inquistion perpetrated in his name, this book will be a rewarding read. And to everyone seriously interested in the social and political history of human civilization, as exemplified in the establishment of these two dominant world religions, it is an extremely important read.