It’s been over a decade since the Left Behind series concluded, but #1 NYT bestselling author Jerry Jenkins has continued to write, with his latest—Dead Sea Conspiracy—being the sequel to his 2018 novel, Dead Sea Rising. Listen in as Jerry and Josh talk about the novel, as well as some other projects he has going on. We also talk about the art of story and the advice he would give to young writers just starting out.
The Conversation | Jerry Jenkins
This excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity and conciseness.
Josh Olds: Your most recent book is Dead Sea Conspiracy. It’s the second book in a series, so set the book up for us. What is this series about?
Jerry Jenkins: Basically, it’s about a young woman in her late 30s, who is an archaeologist and a lot of people don’t realize that if you’re a true archaeologist and will be a lead on an archeological dig, you have two earned doctorates. So here’s a character that is way more educated than I am. And she’s also a Messianic Jew. So now you’ve got a woman, Christian, Jewish, and young, who is trying to get a permit to dig in Saudi Arabia—and she gets it. And that that brings all kinds of mayhem and problems, because she’s not terribly welcome over there, and whatever she finds, is probably going to be suspected, and opposed. And that all proves true, which makes for fun fiction. So it’s really a story about her. And there’s all kinds of orbital players that make it interesting.
Josh Olds: About half of the storyline takes place in biblical times, and that follows the life of Terah, Abraham’s father. And there’s a connection between the two timeframes–I won’t, I’m not gonna give anything away, I’ll let you decide how much of that to talk about—but what sort of research did you do on this timeframe? What drew you to this biblical story?
Jerry Jenkins: Well, what’s really interesting is, is that the main character is trying to investigate and find something that proves that basically, the division between the three major religions in the world—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—are on a faulty foundation. The foundation is that the Muslims believe that it’s Ishmael who was the son of promise of Abraham, not Isaac, but she finds is some evidence that shows that Abraham actually blessed both sons and asked them to live in peace.
Josh Olds: The present-day storyline deals very heavily in archaeology, obviously, the main character is trying to find this evidence. How did you go about making sure that you got all these archaeological details right? Are there archaeological digs in Saudi Arabia because I think we hear about them in other areas of the Middle East but Saudi Arabia is little more closed off. We don’t really hear about things coming out of there. But that is such a biblically rich, historically rich region of the world.
Jerry Jenkins: I had a consultant on both these novels. His name is Dr. Craig Evans. He’s a professor at Houston Theological Seminary, Houston Baptist, and he is the smartest guy in the room no matter what the room is. And he’s also an archaeologist. So everything in it that has to do with archaeology, even the mundane things like what kind of equipment they use, and what time they schedule their day based on how hot it’s going to be, and how they build the tents to protect them from the sun and, and how they log each piece that they find, and that type of thing where they dig—that’s all stuff that he has vetted. I had fun. I felt like I went to the Craig Evans seminary. I’m not a theologian or a scholar, and I’m certainly not an archaeologist. But I needed that expert input and he provided.
The Book | Dead Sea Conspiracy
Archaeologist Nicole Berman is the first woman to be awarded a permit to lead a dig in Saudi Arabia. Nicole has a hunch that the artifacts she hopes to discover have the power to rewrite world history. She assembles a team that will ultimately surprise – and in some cases – betray her. Will she find what she believes to be the key to unifying the three major religions before a dangerous enemy gets to her?
Meanwhile, in a parallel storyline, readers are launched back to ancient Ur where young Abram is sent to learn from his forebears, who tell him firsthand stories of being on the ark during the Great Flood. How will Abram cope with his heritage of multiple faiths and what will he teach his descendants?
The Author | Jerry Jenkins
Jerry Jenkins has been steeped in the craft of writing for more than 40 years. With 21 New York Times bestsellers (seven debuting at #1), over 200 books, and over 73 million copies sold, he has become one of the most commercially successful writers of our time.
Jerry has seen unprecedented success in both fiction and nonfiction. His insatiable pursuit of great stories has led him to achievement as a biographer to icons such as Hank Aaron, Orel Hershiser, Walter Payton, Meadowlark Lemon, Nolan Ryan, Mike Singletary, B.J. Thomas, and many other men and women. The Hershiser and Ryan books reached the New York Times bestseller list, as did his most recent work, The Matheny Manifesto, with baseball’s most successful young manager Mike Matheny. Jerry also assisted Dr. Billy Graham with his memoirs, Just As I Am (also a New York Times bestseller), which he considers the privilege of a lifetime.
Jerry and his wife Dianna live in Colorado, have three grown sons, and eight grandchildren.