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I read this book back in the late 80s/ early 90s. I remember the title of the book as Mission.

It started with a man being admitted to a hospital in present-day NY at Easter, with all of the wounds that Jesus suffered. He is brought back from death and ultimately recruits a sceptic who is persuaded to board an El Al flight to Israel. A terrorist blows up the plane, but Jesus and this guy are transported back to Biblical times. This goes to explain Jesus's disappearance from his grave over the Easter weekend.

Basically, this sceptic winds up writing the Dead Sea scrolls, but with the knowledge from his original time. Another thread of the story has academics in the 50s (or so) going through the scrolls with mounting disbelief at the kind of stuff this guy is writing (particularly about sex/violence/regular life in NY in the 80s/90s). They decide that it's too controversial and end up keeping the scrolls under wraps and this ends up being the reason that the scrolls have still not been released to the public at large.

Can anyone come up with the author / ISBN? The trouble is that with vague terms like Mission, stigmata and Easter you wind up with thousands of results :)

  • Was the overall.. tone? theme? feel? ... of the book pro-religion or anti-religion? – Joe L. Apr 22 '15 at 17:08
  • That was one thing I recalled enjoying about the book - I didn't feel it was pro- or anti-religious. If anything it just reminded the reader of how fallible humans are. At least, that's the impression I'm left with, some twenty years after reading it! – NeepNeepNeep Apr 23 '15 at 13:01
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I think you're referring to Patrick Tilley's Mission

I've never read it, but I do remember reading the blurb on the back a loooooooong time ago; it starts out with a man bearing the same wounds as Jesus appearing in modern-day (well, 1980s) Manhattan.

I can't find a description of much of the plot, other than what's given on Patrick Tilley's web page for the novel:

What would you do if, through an unexpected twist of fate and time, you came face to face with Jesus of Nazareth? In the flesh. A living, breathing, three-dimensional figure with a disconcertingly casual manner. When you had pinched yourself to make sure that you weren't dreaming and found that he was still there, would you turn your back and walk away - or would you try to find out what he was doing so far from home?

That was the decision facing Leo Resnick, a smart young Manhattan lawyer, and his girl-friend, Dr Miriam Maxwell. Mission is Leo's record of his encounter with The Man. If you've ever looked up at the stars and wondered what it all means, this is the book you've been waiting for. Mission is the nearest you'll get to the Secret of the Universe this side of the Apocalypse.

The trip starts on Page One. Climb aboard.

Here's an excerpt from chapter 1:

    I took a deep breath and looked at the body. Like Miriam had said, he hadn’t been blown away but he was still a mess. The man was about thirty to thirty-five years old, medium build, lean hard body. In general, his features were of the type the police label Hispanic. He had a swarthy complexion and his skin was deeply tanned. He had a beard and straggly, shoulder-length hair. Like a hippie who’d done time on a kibbutz. There was a gaping, two-inch wide stab-wound in his left side just under his rib cage but the most unsettling thing was the bruises and lacerations. The guy had had the shit beaten out of him, then taken one hell of a whipping. The skin on his back had been cut through to the bone and there were deep raw stripes on the backs of his thighs as well. It also looked as if his attackers had beaten him over the head with a nailed piece of wood. Miriam pointed to his feet. ‘See that?’
    I nodded. ‘Yeah, what are they - bullet wounds?’
    ‘No,’ replied Wallis. ‘Somebody drove a metal spike through them. Through his wrists too.’ He picked up an arm and showed me.
    I swallowed hard. ‘Jeezuss! What kind of people would do something like this?’

  • You can find an ebook of it at OpenLibrary.org – Joe L. Apr 22 '15 at 21:12
  • Wow, that was quick & exactly right - thank you! – NeepNeepNeep Apr 23 '15 at 12:57

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