On finishing my 24 Hour Through the Bible – OT Course at KI for my Unschooled Master’s of Theology in Biblical Studies program and chose to write a paper about which bible the New Testament Authors and the early Church Fathers used in the first few centuries of the faith.

You can read all of my uThM assignments here.

Let’s get started….


Introduction

Debate has raged since the books of the bible were first penned on how we should properly interpret what was written.

The first two centuries saw great variety and flux in the church, as it wrestled its legitimacy away from its Jewish foundations, while, simultaneously fueled by continued roman persecution until 313 A.D.

But, unless one digs deeply into the church’s veiled history, which has been marred by over 2000 years of revisionism, layered by agenda, speculation, and assumption, until the past appears more like a mythic haze than history, you cannot glimpse beyond the artifice of tradition and dogma.

Wasn’t the Old Testament Written in Hebrew?

This revisionism is not prevalent in Christian circles only. The Jews were likewise guilty of as much, some arguing the prophets were not trying to bring people back to the religion of Moses, but were keen on creating their own religion and abolish that which came before (2) rather than continuing a mosaic religion based on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But, this idea is easily refuted by the NT and Apostolic Father’s use of the biblical text as we will see.

The fact still remains, the history of Christianity is shrouded in a great deal of transformation and much can be lost in the minutia. One example of this being due to Jerome’s Latin translation, which led to most of modernity simply assuming the Old Testament for both Jew and Christian alike was the Hebrew bible (2). But, this is simply not true. It is neither historically accurate nor is it in any way helpful in understanding many of the foundational doctrines brought to life in early Christianity.

The evidence does not reside in the biblical texts alone, but through auxiliary support. Philo, a Jewish philosopher, is said to have quoted exclusively from the Septuagint (5). Josephus, who came directly after Philo, claimed the Septuagint translators had been supernaturally “possessed, and, under inspiration” (2), rendering, despite being sequestered from each other, the exact same translation, word-for-word. Yet, despite it’s well known history, textual criticism seems focused on the New Testament alone and often overlooks the Old Testament and most specifically the LXX (3).

The New Testament Author’s Use of the OT

So, what was the bible used by the New Testament authors, then?

In reality, the bible of the NT time period and for much of the first and second centuries after was the Septuagint. And this was not a “fixed collection of the same books bound together between two covers” but was a loose collection of texts that circulated throughout the communities (5). The actual formalized bible we have today was not solidified until the fifth century.

The catholic canon was set by the Council of Rome in 382 A.D. Before that time, there were different types of Christianity, all wrestling for prominence, and each having their own view of what sacred Scripture might be. Some of those documents have since been lost, while others, though existent copies still remain, have fallen out of favor for one reason or another. Even today, there is debate over documents like the Book of Enoch, and the Gospel of Thomas, to name just two.

But, at the time of the first century church, when the gospels and the Pauline letters and the general letters, as well as Revelation were being written, those apostolic writers had at their disposal texts of the bible, typically in scroll form. So, what Scripture did they quote from?

The truth is, in the NT, the authors quoted various texts. There was no singular text form or text tradition. Despite what our modern-day King James Onlyist adherents would believe, there was no inerrant text handed down from up on high, perfectly preserved throughout the course of human history. In fact, there were many text streams that were carried on through the painstaking and tireless efforts of a multitude of believers from a myriad of religious traditions.

Both Christians and Jews must be credited for the preservation of the bible we have today. Scribes. Monastics. Rabbis. Rulers. Cults. All contributed in one way or another to the task.

But, does the prevailing theory hold true that, during those first 100 years after Christ’s death, the text tradition relied on most was the Greek version of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint?

Let’s take a look at the evidence.

An Intensive Study

Back in 2004, I embarked on a four month long, intensive bible study while I worked on the graveyard shift at a local gas station. Armed with a NKJV bible, and a duffel bag full of bible resource books and an old brick of a Thinkpad laptop, I worked through the entire New Testament, cataloging every reference the New Testament authors made of the Old Testament.

You might ask, why in the world would I do such a thing in the first place? Well, I was just coming to the end of an extensive study of the King-James-Only controversy, having had my preferred NIV translation uprooted and replaced by the NKJV (wanting the Majority Text for the actual text with the critical references in the margin, which was opposite of the NIV) and I was still unconvinced of modern day hermeneutic principles. At the time (and still today), I had a theory. I didn’t really care what had been thought up in seminaries over the last 100 years. I didn’t care what the opinions were from leading theologians about how we should approach the bible (and I was coming off a stint at a local modern church “How to Study the Bible” class that was basically drivel regurgitated from the newly published book, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth. It was a dismal attempt at justifying their modern hermeneutic, and my theory flew directly in the face of it.

What was my theory?

The bible should be interpreted as it was interpreted by the bible.

That might be passe or seem a bit circular, but it’s actually neither (well, it might be passe). Nevertheless, I was convinced the best way to form a proper hermeneutic was to look at how the New Testament authors interpreted the bible they used in the first century. Since my job provided ample downtime at night for long stretches of study and internet (via dial-up through the phone line in the dog house I sat in in between customers), I could devote that time to the study and find out for myself.

So, I set out on a four month journey, working 6-8 hours a night, four days a week, until I had cataloged every reference in the New Testament where the authors quoted or referenced or alluded to the Old Testament. I not only listed each New Testament reference, but I also cited what passage they were referring to in the Old Testament, who the author was, how the author was interpreting the passage, what the original meaning was in the Old Testament being referenced, and what type of interpretive reference the author was making (how they were interpreting the Old Testament reference in context to their New Testament application). Lastly, I identified what text variant the New Testament author was using (LXX, Masoretic, Neither, or Both).

In the end, I came away with a spreadsheet of 363 references, 254 of those being direct quotes from the Old Testament text. This provided me a platform from which I could directly analyze my data, rather than take the word of others (which I’m highly skeptical of anyway). And, I came away with some very interesting insights.

What Did the Data Say?

I discovered from the results of my study, the New Testament authors had a rather diverse text base from which they worked. As stated above, there was no magical text presented to them from out of the burning bush or aloft Mount Sinai. Instead, God chose to disiminate and preserve his word through human facility.

Here is what the data said:

363 references produced 254 direct quotes the New Testament authors made from the Old Testament. Of that number (363), 109 references, allusions or inferences were not directly quoted from the Old Testament, leaving it impossible to determine what source they used.

With 254 references to look at, I determined there were four basic choices when determining text type used. There would be instances where the text agreed with both the Masoretic text and the Septuagint. There would be instances where the text agreed with only one. There would also be instances where the text would not agree with either. Note: When I state the Masoretic text, I refer to the Hebrew text the New Testament authors were using in the first century that agrees with what we identify as the Masoretic today (which is five to eight centuries newer than the text they were working with).

Armed with these four options, I set to work checking, sorting, double-checking the data. Of the total direct references, there were 86 instances where the quotes matched with both the Masoretic and the Septuagint (these are subsequently impossible to determine which text the New Testament authors were using). Of those references remaining, only 21 were quoted from the Hebrew Masoretic text. From those same references, 71 instances where quoted directly from the Septuagint. Even more surprising, 81 times the New Testament authors quoted from neither the Masoretic or the LXX, meaning they quoted from a separate, now extinct textual variant.

When tallying these, we find the Masoretic was quoted only 8% of the time. The Septuagint was used nearly 28% of the time, and the mystery text(s) were used 31% of the time.

So much for the preservation of the Scriptures.

The Church Father’s Use of the OT

Fast forward nearly sixteen years to present day, and, in revisiting the data I collected, I wanted to go further in determining what kind of Old Testament text was used by the early church. To do this, I went back to source texts, specifically the Apostolic Fathers.

These are the Church Fathers from the first century of Christianity, the immediate disciples of the apostles: Clement, Mathetes, Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus.

The scope of this paper did not allow for as extensive or comprehensive data collection as did my project back in 2004. Instead, I opted for a random sample of the quotes made by these early Christians and came away with these results.

From 22 references, 13 had no difference between the texts in question. As in the New Testament study, there was simply no way to determine if the quote was from the LXX or the Masoretic. That is nearly 60% of the quotes from the random sample that were in agreement compared to only 34% from the New Testament study. This could be the result of the miniscule sample size used in the Apostolic Father’s analysis, or in the short period of time between the New Testament writings and the Apostolic Father’s writings, the existent texts available decreased in variant readings due to textual harmonization. Personally, I lean toward the former, but confirming this would require more indepth analysis in the future.

This left 9 references that had textual variants, or 41% of the sample set.

Four of those 9 were clearly made from the Septuagint, or 18% of the full sample, 44% of the variant subset.

Only 1 reference appeared to be from the Hebrew text, but the loose wording could be interpreted as having come from the author’s memory rather than a direct quote. Regardless of how the text was provided, though, it still only represents 5% of the full sample, and only 11% of the variant subset.

The remaining four references came from neither the LXX or the Masoretic, representing a third, unidentified, now non-existent textual tradition. This would be 18% of the full sample and 44% of the variant subset.

An interesting side investigation for future research would be to compare the mystery text quoted by the New Testament authors with the mystery text quoted by the Apostolic Fathers to determine if it were the same texts used by both.

Can We Answer the Question Proposed?

So, the question remains still to be answered: What bible was used by the New Testament authors and the Church Fathers?

From the data above, we can conclude several points. 1. Both groups had a 35% average of no variants at all, meaning it will forever be a mystery as to which text they actually used in those instances. 2. Approximately 35% references followed a now non-existent text family. This means we simply don’t have the bible in these places (save for the quotes themselves). 3. Approximately 25% of references strictly followed the LXX. 4. Of all the references for both the Church Fathers and the New Testament authors collected and analyzed, less than 10% were made from the Masoretic Hebrew text.

In the end, what we find is we do not have, in large part, the bible used by the early church. The Old Testament copies the apostles and Church Fathers used have since been lost.

The second most used text was, handedly, the Septuagint. A case can also be made that the small number of references cited from the Hebrew Masoretic variant were from the author’s mind, most likely having grown up hearing the Old Testament Hebrew being read aloud in the Synagogue, the author had a running version of the Hebrew text in their long-term memories.

While the LXX is a witness to an older text tradition (2), it cannot be said it is necessarily older than any of the others, be it what would be used for the later Masoretic or the unknown third variant (that was most in use by the apostles and Apostolic Fathers).

In the first few centuries of the church, typically it was a Greek bible used, claiming the Jewish people had abandoned all rights to the text due to their persecution of Christians and the denial and murder of Christ himself (1). In fact, through the first 400 years, both the Eastern and Western Churches relied on some Greek translation as opposed to the Hebrew. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Basil, and Gregory all used the Septuagint (5).

And this use came at a cost for the already strained relationship between the Jews and the Christians, with the Jewish scholars wanting to remove the prophetic references to Christ and many Christians wanting to remove the Jews altogether.

It was commonly assumed the Council of Jamnia sparked the first efforts by the Jewish people to change the Old Testament, removing references to Christ and returning the authorized text back to Hebrew. Some today, though, argue this council never actually occurred (1), and there is some evidence for this, giving such examples as Isaiah 53.

There was a shift away from the LXX during this same time toward Aquila’s Greek Old Testament, and this became prominently used in Greek speaking synagogues. But, Jerome considered Aquila’s translation too literal and preferred instead the more liberal interpretations of the Pharisees.

Church Father’s Interpretive Principles

But, how did these early Christians actually interpret the bible they had? How did people like Paul or John or Clement develop what we would call today a proper hermeneutic?

This was the prevailing question I had that led me to conduct the research project back in 2004. So many people had opinions on how the bible should be interpreted. Even more had opinions on who was doing it wrong (pretty much everyone).

But, my hypothesis still carried weight. The best way to interpret the bible, the only way to properly do so, would be to model our interpretations first after Jesus, second after the apostles, then third, after those closest to the first century.

When analyzing the data, it became clear the main thrust of the New Testament author’s intention was to teach historically. They were occupied primarily with developing doctrine, especially in the case of Paul.

Jesus clearly saw the Old Testament as the divine revelation of God (8). He was predominately driven by two main motivations. One, to declare his Messiahship as he fulfilled the multitude of prophetic passages, and two, to distinguish the biblical text and its true message from the man-made (or demonic) doctrines of the Pharisees.

Of the 254 New Testament quotes made from the Old Testament, approximately 100 of those were made by Jesus. Twenty-one were interpretive (applying a new meaning to the original text), 19 were strictly literal references utilizing the original context and meaning, 2 were simply straight forward references, 22 were examples provided from the Old Testament. More interestingly, 24 references were prophetic, being fulfilled yet still in the future. 5 were prophetic references used as examples, and 7 were prophetic claims made by Jesus without using the original context.

For the New Testament authors, they focused on literal teaching by example, which constituted 101 references out of the 254. Contextual prophetic claims were second at 80 instances and Interpretive, new teaching came in at 60. Of note, there were 16 non-contextual prophetic claims (such as Matthew’s infamous “Out of Egypt I call my Son” reference).

Much like the early church fathers in the first several centuries, there was a concerted effort to prove Christ to be the Messiah.

But, by the 3rd century and going forward, hermeneutic tendency diverged into two primary camps: The Alexandrian school which utilized an allegorical hermeneutic in interpretation and the Antiochian school which utilize a literal, historical interpretive. Both of these schools, though, leaned heavily on the LXX (5) as their text base.

It could be argued the early Jewish Christians had little exposure to the Hebrew, especially those within the Greek speaking world that had relied on the all-too familiar Greek translation of the Old Testament.

As Christianity separated from its Jewish parent, it likewise divorced itself from the Hebrew texts, claiming the LXX as its bible of choice up until Jerome’s Latin Vulgate (which went back to the Hebrew texts).

Later Interpretive Principles

If the first Christians were focused on apologetics and mounting a defense of the faith, the latter Christians went on, especially after persecutions ceased, to focus on expounding on and even embellishing doctrine.

Over the centuries, they developed a hermeneutic that was prevalent even into the Reformation where they employed a fourfold interpretation known as the quadriga.

This approach was ultimately rejected by the reformers, though it can still be felt in many denominations today. The typical approaches of the quadriga were historical, allegorical, tropological, and anagogical (7).

Before the 12th century bible scholars spent little time creating concordances, since most believers were adept at memorizing Scripture (6). They often lived and breathed the biblical text, even though most “bibles” were physical collections of individual scrolls and not an actual book as we know it today.

Jerome was the first to compile the assorted documents into a single, bound collection. There was, at this time, a move away from the literal sense of the books, and toward an allegorical interpretive rule (6).

While there was a three-fold sense of the bible as far back as Origen (obvious, ethical, spiritual), the fourfold sense (quadrifariam) was developed primarily by Jerome and Cassian (7).

The interpretive schemas throughout the centuries would swing like a pendulum between literal and allegorical, depending on the geographic location and date. A good example of this would be Ireland between the seventh and ninth centuries, who proved to lean heavily on a literal interpretive framework rather than an allegorical one (6). Of course, most groups would rely on a mixture of both.

It was often said, the allegorical was what you are to believe, the moral is what you are to do, and the anagogical is where you’re going. Jerusalem was viewed literally as the city, but allegorically as the church, morally as the human soul, and anagogically as heaven (7).

Even Luther, though he did not necessarily hold a high view of the quadriga, never disapproved of its use. He stated, “That quadriga, though I do not disapprove of it, is not sufficiently supported by the authority of Scripture, by the custom of the Fathers, or by grammatical principles” (7).

This was also the position of Aquinas, and several others.

The origin of this multi-sense view of Scripture was rooted in neo-Platonic philosophy with its reliance on reality lying beyond and above the historical account (7).

Conclusions

As we’ve seen, it is not necessarily accurate to state the early Christian bible was exclusively the Septuagint. In fact, while it certainly was not the Hebrew or what would eventually become the Masoretic textual variant, the predominately used bible has been ultimately lost to us, despite the enormous efforts of scribes throughout the centuries.

Midler makes the point, “the Septuagint, in a Christian theological context, is awarded at least the same importance as the Biblia Hebraica [rather than inferior to it]. Undoubtedly this will result in a collision course in relation to the scientific paradigm, which has hitherto been dominant in a Bible research favoring the question of the original. But, besides these historically and religious oriented problems, the Church is faced with the intricate question as to which text is to be translated and used as the Old Testament of the Church” (2).

The real question we should be asking is not which bible was used, but what they were trying to get across to us when using the bible they did use.

An even more important question is one of inerrancy and inspiration. But, that question will certainly need to be tackled in a separate paper.

Until my next review…..


Sources

(1) Rajak, T. (2020). Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible and the Ancient Jewish Diaspora.

(2) Midler, M. (1993). The Septuagint as the bible of the New Testament church. Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament, 7(2), 194–207. doi: 10.1080/09018329308585017

(3) Barr, J. (1994). PAUL AND THE LXX: A NOTE ON SOME RECENT WORK. Journal of Theological Studies, 45(2), 593–601. doi: 10.2307/23967640

(4) Newman, R. C. (1983). The Council of Jamnia and the Canon of the Old Testament. Interdisciplinary Biblical research.

(5) Law, T. M. (2013). When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible. OUP USA.

(6) Leclerc, J. (1987). Monastic Commentary on Biblical and Ecclesiastical Literature from Late Antiquity to the Twelfth Century. The Medieval Journal 2:2 (2012). 10.1484/J.TMJ.1.103233.

(7) Hagen, K. (2000). Biblical Interpretation in the Middle Ages and the Reformation. Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Digital Library (2000).

(8) Ellis, E. (1989). How Jesus Interpreted His Bible. Criswell Theolgoical Review. The Criswell College.


Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.


Excerpt from Ashen Monk Mountain:



There was an old elm tree near the end of the lawn, with a circular picnic table and several short benches.

“This looks like a lovely spot,” Mr. Eckey said, taking a seat.

He set his briefcase on the picnic table and flipped the latches, opening the lid.

Christopher took a seat opposite him and removed his hood, folding his arms in front of him.

“I have a tablet and a pen here somewhere,” Mr. Eckey said. “I had it when I left, that is. Not sure if I can find it in this disorganized briefcase of mine…”

He chuckled at himself.

“So – ”

Christopher ran a hand over his short cropped scalp.

“I’m confused about all this. I’m not sure I understand why exactly you wanted to meet with me.”

Mr. Eckey nodded.

“How long have you been a novitiate here?”

“Going on seven months now.”

“Hmm…and…”

He glanced up at Christopher as he fetched his notebook and ink pen.

“How are you liking it at Saint Joseph’s?”

“It has been – ”

Christopher thought about the question for a moment.

“ – wonderful.”

“I would assume it much different than – ”

Mr. Eckey flipped the first page over, scanned handwritten notes he had on the second page.

“I received some background from the Precept’s office, as well as from Abbot Greenly. You grew up in – North Platte, Nebraska? Is that correct?”

Christopher nodded.

“I’m native of the Boston area myself,” Mr. Eckey said. “Tell me a little about how you came to the decision.”

“The decision?”

Mr. Eckey smiled.

“To become a monk. It must have been quite a journey from Nebraska.”

Christopher shrugged.

“Not really. I guess. I just – ”

Unwanted images flashed through his mind.

Mr. Eckey took a deep breath before speaking again.

“Mr. Ward, I don’t actually know a whole lot about this request, to be perfectly honest. As you know, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life – that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it – we are entrusted with monitoring abnormal behavior among those called to the consecrated vocation.”

He tapped his pen on the tablet.

“Tell me, what do you like about Saint Joseph’s exactly?”

“It’s the – well – I feel at home here. Like I belong. I very much enjoy the silence.”

“Yes, I know the Trappists to be quite ardent in their devotion.”

Christopher nodded in agreement as Mr. Eckey took a few notes.

“I enjoy the early mornings, the worship, the offices. The undivided devotion.”

“To God?” Mr. Eckey asked.

“Yes,” Christopher said. “Exactly.”

The stranger focused on his notes for several seconds, silently mouthing the words he wrote.

“Tell me, how does your life now differ from your previous one?”

“Previous?”

Mr. Eckey stopped writing.

“Your military career.”

“Oh,” Christopher said, looking down. “I guess – I – I don’t know. There are lots of differences. I’m not – sure I – what is this inquiry about exactly?”

Mr. Eckey put his pen down.

“Mr. Ward,” he said. “The Vatican apparently has interest in your particular gifts and abilities for a – call it – a special appointment. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”

He shifted his weight on the hard bench.

“Normally, the Congregation does not get involved in appointments or a particular monk’s vocational choices. But, sometimes, when the need arises, special arrangements can be made.”

“Are you talking about another monastery?”

“Actually – ”

Mr. Eckey picked his pen back up.

“It’s an entirely different Order.”

Christopher leaned forward as a gust of wind billowed the long sleeves of his tunic.

“I don’t really understand,” he said. “Are you saying the Vatican wants me to move to a different monastery – to a different Order? But…I…”

Mr. Eckey waited a moment.

“Tell me, Mr. Ward, about your military training.”

“What about it?”

“Your experiences. You were a special operator, is that correct?”

Christopher shot him a quizzical look.

“How do you know that?”

“You were part of the 7th SFG? Assigned to operations in Afghanistan for the majority of your enlistment, surrendering your commission as a Captain. Is that correct? What did you like or dislike about your military career? Why was it you left?”

Christopher looked out over the cornfields in the distance.

“Sir,” he said, wringing his hands together. “I don’t really understand why you’re asking these kinds of questions. To be honest, they’re making me a little uncomfortable. I think I – ”

“Please, Brother Christopher,” Mr. Eckey said, putting up a hand. “I don’t mean to pry. As I said, this is a peculiar and rather sensitive situation, not at all normal procedure. So, I do apologize for my rather tactless approach. Let me explain a little, if I can – ”

Christopher tried to relax.

He struggled to repress the memories rising in the back of his mind, the bloody and gruesome images of dead bodies, a horrible, yet all too familiar wave of fear and dread washing over him.

A wave of putrid death enveloped and permeated everything.

He took a deep breath, tried to ignore it.

Mr. Eckey put down his pen again.

“There is a remote monastery in British Colombia. It is of a separate Order, not Cistercian, but similar. It’s rather distinctive, as I am led to believe.”

“What is the Order?” Christopher asked.

Mr. Eckey shook his head.

“You would not be familiar with it,” he said. “There is actually only one monastery in the Order. But it has had a long, and quite fascinating history, to say the least. And, somewhat of a fantastic service.”

“So, why me, then?” Christopher asked. “I’m a novitiate. I don’t have much to offer. I’m not sure what you are asking of me.”

“The Vatican is asking a favor of you, Brother Ward. They are requesting that you take a leave of absence from Saint Joseph’s and visit this other monastery for a time.”

“I’m – I don’t – ”

Christopher stammered.

“I’m honored that the Vatican has called on me,” he said. “I really do feel settled here, though. I would not wish to – ”

Mr. Eckey interrupted.

“Consider it simply a sabbatical of sorts. Without strings attached. We are interested solely in God’s working here in this matter.”

“Are you wanting me to relocate?” Christopher asked.

Mr. Eckey smiled.

“How about we say the Vatican is open and interested in the Father’s call on your life. We simply wish to – test the waters – see if this would or would not be a good fit.”

“So, if I go, and it is not a good fit?”

“Your place here at Saint Joseph’s would be available to you at any time you see fit. Like I said, no strings attached.”

“I would not feel comfortable going without Abbot Greenly’s blessing,” Christopher said.

“You have it,” Mr. Eckey said, his smile widening.

Christopher said nothing.

“Think of it as a vacation. Though, if I’m hearing you correctly, you really are in no need of one. But, then again…. ”

The man shrugged.

“May I – ”

Christopher pondered his words.

“Is it possible to consider this awhile before I decide?”

“Certainly,” Mr. Eckey said. “Because of the situation, though, we would need you to go sooner than later. Is there anything upcoming that you are thinking about in particular?”

Christopher shook his head.

“No,” he said. “I would just like to sit with this for a day or two. Pray about it. How long would the visit be?”

“As long as you need to decide,” Mr. Eckey said. “Preferably a month to start. Longer is encouraged. Like I said, it is a unique situation, so tradition does not really lend itself easily. But, I would ask – ”

He put his notepad and pen back in his briefcase and closed the lid.

“Because of the sensitive nature, the Vatican has requested that you do not discuss this with anyone except me. Not the other monks here, your family, not even Abbot Greenly.”

“But, how – ”

Mr. Eckey put up a hand.

“I’m heading back to discuss the situation with Abbot Greenly before I leave the grounds. He will certainly not have an objection. Not that I can imagine, anyway.”

He fished out a business card from the inside pocket of his blazer.

“Here is my contact information,” he said, handing him the card. “You can reach me on my cell phone any time. Whenever you decide, one way or the other. There is a great need, though, so I do hope you will consider at least visiting.”

Christopher took the card, looked at it, then looked up at Mr. Eckey.

“What kind of need, exactly?”

The man just smiled.

“All in due time,” he said. “Just let us know as soon as you are able.”

Christopher looked back at the card.

“I will.”

“Thank you, Brother Ward, for your time. I do think I can find my way back to the abbot’s office from here.”

He briefly looked around the grounds.

“I do envy you a little,” he said. “What a majestic space you monks have created here. It’s like a slice of Eden. Really.”

He got up, shook Christopher’s hand, then left him there alone, as the stranger retraced his steps to the abbot’s office.

Christopher took a deep breath, then sighed.

The wave of putrid death still lingered as another wind gust blew across the fields, dredging up memories he would have altogether wished could have remained buried, soaking him again in the blood of the past.

He stayed there for a long time, just watching as the endless sea of cornfields waved in the winds.


Buy my book Ashen Monk Mountain to find out what this cryptic and mysterious appointment is the Vatican is asking Christopher to take on. An unheard of monastery, hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies? A secret mission and call? What in the world could be going on?

Click here and grab your copy today! Whatever you do, don’t let this fantastically epic story get away!

But, trust me when I say, you’re not going to believe the truth even when you discover it for yourself. Find out what secrets lay hidden underfoot at Ashen Monk Mountain!


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