'Gospel Thrillers'


  • Andrew S. Jacobs University of California, Riverside




gospel thriller, Christian scholarship


Decades before the publishing phenomenon The Da Vinci Code turned millions of readers on to the excitement and glamour of early Christian history and biblical studies, a steady stream of novels—some obscure, some bestsellers were teaching the popular reading public about the thrills and chills of the academic study of Scriptures. These ‘gospel thrillers’ share a common plot: a recently discovered gospel (often a first-person account of Jesus’ ministry by one of his disciples) threatens to turn our understanding of Christianity on its head. In a race against time (and the occasional Vatican assassin) the hero must find out if the new, shocking gospel is real. Of particular interest for the post-Da Vinci Code scholar is the portrayal of academics and academic work in these early ‘gospel thrillers’: from bronzed heroes to bumbling misanthropes to sinister tools of global conspiracies, the scholars of the ‘gospel thrillers’ instructed readers on what to love, and what to mistrust, about the academic project of biblical studies.

Author Biography

Andrew S. Jacobs, University of California, Riverside

Andrew S. Jacobs is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside.


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How to Cite

Jacobs, A. S. (2005). ’Gospel Thrillers’. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 1(1), 125–142. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v1i1.125