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Reviewed by Susan van der Walt for Readers' Favorite
In Apocrypha by Richard Caldwell, a road construction crew discovers the body of a man crucified by the Romans. Speculation has it that it is the body of Yehoshua, the man Christians call Jesus. Archaeologists take the bones for genetic testing to establish their identity. Scientists secretly keep part of the bones and use this to create a human clone. Thus, Eli was born. As a young man - just like Jesus - he retreats to the wilderness for forty days to meditate on his purpose in life. But unlike Jesus, Eli focuses on solving global warming issues and creating the Yugenist philosophy. He believes there is no God, and we are all part of the universal energy and return to energy when we die. When Eli discovers that he will die soon due to a genetic anomaly, he tasks his closest friends and followers with continuing his mission.
Richard Caldwell weaves an intriguing tale where archaeology and science fiction meet. He asks: 'What would happen if we could clone Jesus?' The result is not at all what readers would expect, and due to certain discrepancies, would it be likely that the cloned body was indeed Jesus? Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the narrative, and Richard Caldwell creates enough suspense to keep you reading. This includes how Liza and Jack obtained the genetic sample and cloned Eli, the suppression of the story by the media, the attempt on Eli's life, and Marion's investigation of Eli and his mission. The title, Apocrypha, refers not only to the original news story that was kept secret but also to the teachings of Eli that were meticulously recorded for his followers. A complex story worth reading.