by Bill Myers
Paperback - 352 pages
August 1, 2000
Zondervan Publishing House
From the back cover:
What if Jesus had not come until today? Who would
follow him? Who would kill him?
A fiery car crash hurls TV journalist Conrad Davis into another world exactly
like ours except for one detail — Jesus Christ did not come 2,000 years ago,
Starting with angels heralding a birth in the back of a motel laundry room,
the skeptical Davis watches the gospel unfold in today's society as a Messiah in
T-shirt and blue jeans heals, raises people from the dead, and speaks such
startling truths that he captures the heart of a nation.
But the young man's actions and his criticism of the religious establishment
earn him enemies as ruthless as they are powerful.
An intense and thought-provoking novel, Eli strips away religious
tradition to present Jesus fresh and unvarnished. With gripping immediacy, Bill
Myers weaves a story whose truth will refresh your faith.
This is fiction, nothing more. It's merely an attempt to examine some
issues and to get us thinking about others. It is certainly no substitute for
the real thing. Those familiar with my fiction know that I believe
storytelling's greatest strength lies in its ability to stir up our thoughts. By
putting the gospel in a contemporary setting, I've moved Christ out of my
comfort zone and put him back in my face where he can test me, challenge me, and
encourage me. By stripping away the historical and cultural trappings that
I hide behind to insulate myself from his truths, I allow him to become more of
the radical life-changer he was the first time I encountered him.
Unfortunately, the attempt also brings with it some failures. First, by
removing the rich Jewish heritage of the gospel, I've deprived the story of much
of its depth. There were times, for instance, when I wanted to elaborate on the
hundreds of Old Testament prophecies and symbolism that speak of Christ, but
this novel was not the forum for that.
Still, that failure and others only underline the fact that this is merely an
appetizer. For those who haven't yet enjoyed the feast, don't waste time
here — go to the real banquet. Read the book that most of antiquity and today's
scholars still insist is the greatest piece of writing in human history.
If it's been an while since you cracked open a Bible, or if you've never really
explored it, start off with the gospel of John. In one sense, it's the easiest,
in another, the most profound.
And since I'm in a confessional mood, there's another shortcoming you need to
be aware of as you read this novel. To accurately portray a world in which
Christ has not yet come would be to create a society so dark and ugly that it's
doubtful any of us would recognize it, let alone relate to it. To do so would
have again defeated my purposes. So, I didn't. If you're interested in the
impact Jesus Christ has had upon our society, Kennedy and Newcombe's book, What
If Jesus Had Never Been Born, gives interesting insights on how different
our society would be today if Jesus had not come.
A final note. Scripture makes it clear that the Christ would come as a man
born of woman only once. It states that his second coming will not be like his
first. The first was the meek servant who washed our feet and died for our
failures. According to Scripture, the second time he comes it will be as a
conquering King. In fact, Jesus himself warned that if someone born into
our world today claimed to be the Christ (even with accompanying miracles) he
would be a counterfeit, the antichrist prophesied long ago. According to Jesus
Christ, when he appears the next time it will be from the heavens, accompanied
by the glory of God.
Sample of the book from the author's website.