Fran Lewis' in depth review of The Messiah Matrix
A matrix is defined as “ A situation or surrounding substance within which something else originates, develops, or is contained.” Within the pages of this intricate novel we learn about the origins of situations in the past the have reflected themselves in the present as the author takes us back in time to 70A.D. when Flavius Josephus the Historian decided to add 100 words that would change the course of history and the perspective on the existence of one man who was and still is crucial to the Church and Christianity, Christ. Did he really exist? Why is that so many scholars, writers never make mention to actually seeing Jesus in person. Those investigating this issue found one physical reference in a document titled: Testimonium Flavianum added to an edition of his book: Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, where he makes mention of his existence. Antiquities 18.3.3. “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.”
According to history Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to his death. Some who became his disciples did not abandon him. Some reported that he appeared three days after he was crucified and he was the Messiah. But, our novel begins with the murder of a Monsignor authorized we are told by the Holy Mother Church as related by his killer who seeks redemption from Father Ryan and absolution for his sins. But, no sooner does the young Priest begin speaking to him in the Confessional, this man runs out of the church and finds himself the next victim. Why was he sent? Why would the Holy Mother Church order the death of this great man and what do the final words of the killer mean?
Diving in the ancient Harbor in Israel, Emily, an archeologist and her team are diving below the surface and encounter some rough waters. Hidden below the surface in a boat that has been there for many years is a treasure that will change the course of many lives and endanger those that found it. Two of her student divers remain below the surface during this dangerous storm causing Emily to have to find out their fate. Diving, searching and finally learning the reason why their rise to the surface was delayed she decides to complete what they started. Beneath and stuck in a krater was a gold coin. But, not just any gold coin one that was enveloped in bronze by its first owner who left it there thinking he might return for it at a later date but never did. “The Augustan Aureus: never released, was sitting in the palm of her hands.” The author vividly describes the coin: the figure portrayed is wearing a crown that appears to look like thorns. His face has a beard and the thorns look like a halo of spikes differing from the coin depicted on the cover of this book. Within the coin the creator inscribed: Chi and Rho, Greek Letters. The discussion was exciting and heated between Emily and her two students as the history behind the coin is revealed, their excitement palpable and the need to protect the coin noted. Meeting a man named Luke who Emily feels might provide more answers and perhaps funding for her team to continue their research in this field.
Father Ryan relates his meeting with our late Monsignor and the fact he too was in search of answers regarding Christ and his existence. Throughout Chapter 10 he relates what he learned about the man, the many scholars who published documents back then but never mentioned seeing Jesus in person and determining how to handle the fact that the killer, an Albanian man died in his arms and whether he should report it. The chapter relates information about Herod, the slaughter of male infants and the rumor of a royal birth. It continues with his meetings with the Monsignor, his lifestyle and wondering what he might have found in the Sibyl’s cave that got him killed.
Three separate plots: two murders, a coin that could change it all and a Priest that wants to find the connection between the death of the clergyman and the secret he might have buried with him. The Messiah Matrix will hopefully answer this question, leave readers asking more of their own and hopefully enlighten everyone about the research and the history related to Jesus and his existence.
Getting to understand Father Ryan we learn just what a threat he seems to be to the Vatican when summoned to the office of the Procurator General of the Society of Jesus and we hear his tone, his threats to Ryan and the end result in being attacked, entombed when looking at the sarcophagus of St. Paul and then bumping into Emily and finding out it is the Bishop and many attached to the Jesuits that are involved. Followed, shot at, attacked and learning the name of the bishop behind it all is not even the tip of the iceberg for these two when they team up to find out what caused someone kill Oscar Isaac their beloved Monsignor. The book is replete in history and the Monsignor found a link between Jesus and Augustus, which is explained in detail. Next, the cameo of the Emperor Augustus with a crown and holding the royal Roman Scepter carved they think during the time Christ was depicted on the center of the holy cross. This cameo was said to mean that the emperor was the “earthly representative of the almighty power of God.” He was also hoping to find the coin that Emily recovered and he thought his research important for the “origins of Christianity,” dangerous to the church and the Vatican. Finding the coin that was so valuable and the events that followed alerted Ryan to why he had to fear Pimental the Procurator. But, there is much more as the man who cleaned the coin, translated the words for the one person she thought she could trust but not only stole it from her but intended to capitalize on it, realized that on the coin in Greek were the words: God and son of god embossed across from the name: Jasius Augustus.
As you read this novel many different viewpoints come to light regarding Jesus as the Son of God and the Roman Emperor Augustus thought to be the real Son of God according to the Monsignor’s research. If this is true and he is said to be son of god then the Christian Savior should be considered even more a Son of God which explains the tension that mounts within this novel between the Christian church, the Jesuits and the conflict that Father Ryan and Emily face as they come in contact with those that are behind the events that almost took their lives and did take the lives of three others. The Antiquities of the Jews and the crown that was worn by Apollo and the evidence found in the cave and presented to them will give every reader pause for thought, reason to do the research into what is presented themselves and make your own final decision. The cult of Augustus was “reinstated by Constantine,” and revived in the present. In other words Augustus had “designated a dozen of his pontiffs as August ales, to spread the rubrics of his cult throughout the empire.” In reality what Emily and the Monsignor uncovered is from what is depicted on her coin: the bearded image of Augustus wearing the Crown of Thorns- standing for the golden spiked one worn by Apollo. In reality when they asses what they have found, rendered all of the information in the files found in the catacombs and more the end result is that Isaac surmised that : Jesus was Augustus and Ryan has been asked to continue on with his work called the Messiah Matrix.
Was Jesus a real person? From the research presented within this novel the author relates that Augustus founded Christianity. The story created by Pimental and the Bishop would change the course of history. Stating that the imperial cult of Augustus Caesar was Christianity in itself. As we hear Pimental and Emily speak and the research of the Monsignor revealed we learn what others believe to be the truth: that Jesus Christ was “ simply the imperial cult name for the deified Caesar Augustus and the Church Fathers would later spin the manufactured mythology to create a literal biblical Jesus.” When the truth as they tell it unfolds the answers reflect that a mythology emerged into religious power and housed itself with the guardians and those who related the what they thought the real version of religion. Temptations rise, lives are placed in danger as Emily and Ryan face the challenge of their lives but first they have to escape what has been planned for them by those that appear to want them to submit to their will. A final scene will make readers hold their breath as Emily and Ryan are sent head first into a boiling underground river and hope to emerge unscathed.
Characters that are quite interesting and a storyline you will have decide for yourself whether you believe or not. As you read the final chapters and hear the voices from the past of the Emperors, Virgil as he is honored and allowed to sit with the Emperor. What is truth and what did they decide to recreate and change you will have to read and hear the voices of Virgil, Augustus and those in attendance to find out. Creating a cult, which would unify the people of the empire and bring peace. A document or book that would relate the facts and events the way they had conceived them making one man the true God in the eyes of the people. When Ryan and Emily present their findings and you read the last chapter and the chart they created of the events from start to finish, you the reader will decide: Was the real Jesus the one born in a manger or was Jesus: Jesus Augustus? You decide after reading this outstanding novel whose research and an ending that will bring it all full circle.
Fran Lewis: reviewer