From Publishers Weekly
The Nazis wanted it; Indiana Jones risked his life for it; and it plays a substantial role in the legendary stories of King Arthur. What is so intriguing about the Holy Grail, the cup that, according to Christian Gospel accounts, Jesus used at the Last Supper? Aquilina (v-p of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology) and writer Bailey attempt to answer this question. From medieval Christian piety to contemporary popular culture, the authors provide an intriguing historical study of the lore that arose around the Grail. Aquilina and Bailey believe that what draws people to search for the Grail has little to do with a cup, but rather the cup "[s]till represents that unfulfilled longing for the divine that all of us feel." They present a traditionalist perspective, which at times comes across as judgmental and even outright rude, using phrases like "coarse and ignorant louts," "hack writers" and "the wacky fringe" for ad hominem attacks on people they do not appreciate. The work would be stronger if Aquilina and Bailey had avoided such tactics and stuck to their historical pursuits. Still, readers looking for a conservative historical treatment of the Holy Grail will find much to appreciate. (May 15)
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The Holy Grail stories possess a mysterious power that has seized human imagination for centuries. They tell of a great secret finally revealed, of surprising answers to the most profound questions,
of a hidden mystery that satisfies our deepest longings. Writers, poets, artists, composers, and filmmakers have pursued the Grail for 1700 years. This great quest drives the legends of King Arthur, propels Indiana Jones’ greatest adventure, and keeps us turning the pages of The Da Vinci Code.
All this makes the Holy Grail stories themselves something of a mystery. Why have these tales captivated humankind so thoroughly and for so long? They enthrall us, say the authors of The Grail Code, because these stories really do touch the deepest parts of our hearts. They are profound meditations on the human condition, showing humans at their most heroic and most vile—pointing us toward God’s remedy for what ails us. The Grail Code is a literary and theological detective story that ends where the Grail legends began—in the room where Jesus gathered his closest friends for the last time, spoke blessed words, broke bread, and shared a sacred cup.