An explosive Qumran papyrus spirited out of the Thousand Year Reich by its Soviet occupiers surfaces 50 years later as the brass ring in a grandly scaled game of intrigue--and the bane of unassuming Irish linguist Jack Gould's existence. What makes the papyrus--a letter from an Essene leader opposing rapprochement with Rome in the name of Judaic fundamentalism--deadly is its authorship by Jesus, revealed as an orthodox Mosaic zealot rather than as the Messiah. When Jack, responding to an urgent summons from his old friend Iosif Sharanskii in Moscow, agrees to help Iosif smuggle the document out of the country, he finds himself variously pursued by (1) KGB stalwarts, determined to keep their hold on this treasure; (2) the Crux Orientalis, a Catholic group who plan to impeach the document, attributing it to a Zionist conspiracy in order to strengthen their hopes of a new Holy Roman Empire throughout Europe; (3) a covey of right-wing prelates bent on destroying the document in order to preserve the True Church; and (4) an outlaw faction of Catholic priests who want to publish the document to the world. ``Rescued'' repeatedly by allies who turn out to be just as treacherous as the people they're rescuing him from (to the cost of much confusion for both Jack and the reader), Jack eventually finds himself in a Crux Orientalis cross-fire raging around Maria Rosewicz, the woman he loves: on one side, her husband Karl von Freudiger, a Ruhr industrialist who thinks 1945 was just a temporary setback; on the other, her father Stefan, a Stasi survivor planning to groom his grandson for world domination under a new world order. (But don't count the papists out either.) Easterman (Name of the Beast, 1992, etc.) provides an irresistible mÇlange: an attractive (if not overly bright) hero and heroine, international conspiracies, religious paranoia, a corps of double agents whose loyalties can turn on a dime, and an enormous supporting cast, most of whom end up getting executed by each other.