The Omega Scroll
Author: Adrian d’Hage
Pubisher: Penguin, 2006
In 1947, some ancient scrolls were discovered in the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea. They are believed to have been written by a Jewish monastic sect called the Essenes. According to Pliny (23-79 CE), the Essenes were a celibate Jewish sect of hermits who lived in an area that might be understood as the Qumran caves. Josephus, Romano-Jewish scholar of the first century (37-100 CE), described the Essenes as a monastic group or a mystery order that despised pleasure and wealth. Josephus described the Essenes as a community which did not allow any private property. He says that the sect had a 3-year probation period after which one might be accepted as full-fledged member who would have to rise before dawn, work for 5 hours, take a ritual bath after the work and then have a communal meal. According to Josephus, the members had some divination and healing powers. The Essenes were scholars in many ways. When the scrolls were discovered some 2000 years after they were written, the Catholic Church went out of its way to conceal them. Why? Did the scrolls contain some information about Jesus which the Church did not want the people to know?
On 28 Sep 1978, Pope John Paul I died 33 days after his election as the Pope though he was in good health. David A Yallop wrote a book, In God’s Name, giving ample evidence that the Pope was killed by the cardinals in the Vatican because he intended to modernise the Catholic Church.
Adrian d’Hage makes full use of both of the above details in his thriller novel, The Omega Scroll. A Catholic priest named Giovanni Donelli and a Catholic nun named Allegra Bassetti are selected for higher studies in a secular university in accordance with the desires of John Paul I. The Pope dies soon under mysterious circumstances. Donelli is aware of the villainous politics that is played out in the Vatican by Cardinal Petroni who has shady relationships with the Italian Mafia. Petroni is also misusing the funds of the Vatican Bank. John Paul I orders an enquiry into these shady affairs of the Church. He also wishes to legalise contraception. The Pope is a man of integrity who wishes to bring Jesus back to the Church.
The emergence of the Dead Sea Scrolls will soon change the destinies of both Donelli and Allegra. The novel tells the story of the priest and the nun. But it is more about the corruption that has corroded into the Catholic Church’s holy of holies, the Vatican. Cardinal Petroni is the villain who has no knowledge of love. “Those who are incapable of love often substitute it with a desperate pursuit of power,” says one of the characters in the novel (page 458). Cardinal Petroni is the typical power-seeker who will indulge in any kind of manipulation in order to become the next Pope. The Dead Sea scrolls will be bought up by him for enormous amounts of money and the Vatican Bank’s accounts will be manipulated for that. Petroni has no qualms about killing anyone who stands in his way to power.
The novel is a thriller. But it is worth reading. It presents well researched material in the form of popular fiction. The best things is that the author has a noble vision to offer. Unfortunately, Petronis rule the world. Tragically, Petronis rule religions. We, the ordinary mortals, can console ourselves with the dream world suggested by Adrian d’Hage at the end of his novel.