A friend introduced me to Paulo Coelho’s THE ALCHEMIST a number of years after it had been translated, but in perfect timing for the twists and turns of my life to find solace for my soul. It turned out to be one of those books I read numerous times.
When TLC book tours emailed me to squeeze another book into my schedule and I found out it was by Paulo Coelho I was very up for the experience. The publisher overnighted the book to me and I read Manuscript Found in Accra in a one day read. What an amazing history to this manuscript and how graciously Coelho has made it into a story and a piece of wisdom literature.
Two brothers in Upper Egypt were traveling and looking for a place to rest and in December 1945, in a cave they found an urn full of papyrus scrolls. They took them home hoping to avoid the government restrictions and to make money on the black market. Their mother thought these writing were bad luck; she burned some of them and then took the rest to the police. They were handed to a priest who sold them to the Coptic Museum in Cairo. They were then called the NAG HAMMADI manuscripts.
One of the manuscripts even ended up in the Carl Jung Institute and has since been returned to Cairo later to be released to a collector in Belgium. There are thousands of pages in the Nag Hammadi collection. These scripts have been carbon dated to AD 1307 and the city of Accra. Coelho knew about the scripts from a friend in 1982 and was given a copy of this one in 2011 from which he created this possible story and understanding. It is described as a fantasy history.
In 1099 the city of Jerusalem is known as the City of PEACE. The religions are all collaborating and everyone; Christian, Jew, and Muslim are respecting each other and their faiths. On the 14th of July the city is surrounded by the French Religious Crusaders who have been sent by the Pope to destroy the city and all the people within. The citizens have been divided into groups which are to leave and those who are to stay and fight. Those within the city know they are all going to die.
A Greek shoemaker known as the Copt persuades the remaining people that what the future will want to know about them is not that they fought another battle and died. He calls together those people not planning the defense and they surround this wise man and ask a series of questions which when they go home they will write (thousands of scripts) or tell the story wherever they go. Here is what he says in the story:
“…when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face. That is all the future will be interested in, because I do not believe very much will change in the next thousand years.”
The book is a series of questions, answers and explanations, which are lovely discussions of how they were a city of Peace and Collaboration. Even though there is only one narrator who describes life in the beginning and at the end of the Q&A, you are totally aware that this 21 year old man in going to die. Because you are aware of this extreme tension, the story highlights the role of those who need to be at battle and conquer everything for power and control.
This discovery has been as exciting as the uncovering of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic Gospels, and the Essene Writings in the years of Jesus’ journey. It also makes one look back on the few Church Father’s who canonized the writing that we now mark at the HOLY BOOKS of the faith. It emphasizes that whoever succeeds in the battle gets to write the history and often gets to be honored or worshipped in a powerful way.
I am always surprised when I met someone who has their Bible version memorized and is sure they know exactly the right verse at the right moment, and yet they do not know that Women wrote thousands of the manuscripts over time but they were rejected by a “powerful” small group of men. Women’s words were not even considered.
So as we are also experiencing a time of transition in the SPRING of the Middle East, as we watch once again the activities in Jerusalem and Iran and Israel – Syria – and as we watch the voting on a new POPE it is reassuring to know there is so much wisdom writing at hand and that Jerusalem was once know as the City of Peace and Collaboration.
I am so happy these words have been translated for us to read and know. Knoff Publishers sent me an Uncorrected Proof copy of the book and TLC book tours asked me to review it for you. I believe that they are offering a copy of this book for a comment on the blog.
Have you discovered a wisdom tome that helps you find peace? Please share the book or writing that speaks to you at the greatest times of fear and gives you peace.