The Story Behind Paul Maier’s Novel The Constantine Codex

I wrote The Constantine Codex using the same formula I did for the first two novels in this series: A Skeleton in God’s Closet, and More Than a Skeleton. While the main characters are the same and the novels do build on one another, the plots are so different that each can be read independently of the other two. In all three, I also aim to educate while entertaining. In the first, the reader learns a good deal about archaeology, and in the second, how to avoid extremes in current Christianity, Codex explores how biblical manuscripts led to our preset Bible as well as the world of Islam.
While using fiction for my principal characters, I always try to paint a background of solid fact in sowing how to respond to the greatest dangers that could ever face the faith. In the first book, I deal with a plot that could have doomed Christianity, and in the second, a fraud that would have done the same thing. But in The Constantine Codex, I also take on what is clearly the greatest challenge ever to face the church—Islam—and present readers with a model of how Christian-Muslim dialogue could take place at the highest levels when Jonathan Weber, my protagonist, debates the world leader of Sunni Islam at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Christians don’t know enough about the Muslim challenge, or how easy it is to defend our faith.

Still, the most significant plotline in Codex deals with a little-known historical episode in the life of Constantine the Great, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. He instructed his biographer, Eusebius of Caesarea (“the father of church history”) to have fifty elegantly-written copies of the Bible prepared for use in the early church, with its pages bound together into a codex, the world’s first book form. Not one of these has ever been discovered—until now (moving, of course, from fact to fiction) But this codex—the earliest Bible in book form—contains 67 books rather than the usual 66. Is it genuine? Does the extra book really complete the story of St. Paul’s martyrdom at Rome? Should it be included in the canon? How Christianity reacts to this discovery becomes the centerpiece of the novel.

Advance readers are generous in their comments regarding The Constantine Codex, I’m delighted to say. Hank Hanegraaff, the host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, writes: “Just a few pages into it and I was hooked. Maier is that rare combination of masterful storyteller and historian. A brilliant use of the power of story to excite and educate. Bravo!”

— Paul Maier

The Constantine Codex (B1041) is available for purchase through the Christian Research Institute bookstore. Also available from Paul Maier are his novels A Skeleton In God’s Closet (B960), More Than a Skeleton (B920), and Pontius Pilate (B687). To understand more about the historical background to the New Testament, we recommend Paul Maier’s books In The Fullness of Time (SB916) and Josephus, The Essential Works (B558).

Dr. Paul L. Maier is the Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and a much-published author of both scholarly and popular works.

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