ISSA - The Greatest Story Never Told

Snow Mountain Press is an imprint of Summit University Press

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Paul Davids

Director/Producer/Writer of the Motion Picture


"It has been more than half a century since Hermann Hesse’s SIDDHARTHA was first published in an English-language version—and longer (since 1923) since Kahlil Gibran’s THE PROPHET was first released.

"For readers who appreciate religious fictional literature, it has been a very long wait indeed for an author to appear to join the ranks of those literary brethren.

"And who would have expected that the newcomer such brethren would be a woman writer?

"Lois Drake, author of ISSA, may be embarrassed by the exalted comparison, but having recently read ISSA, I think she should now be welcome to their fraternity.

"The publication of ISSA, a novel by Lois Drake published by Snow Mountain Press, an imprint of Summit University Press, is a literary event that will be heralded by all fans of my recent film "JESUS IN INDIA" (Sundance Channel / US – Showtime Channel / Australia).

"The name ISSA, for Jesus, rings in the ears of all who recall the Inaugural Benediction for President Barack Obama, when Reverend Rick Warren referred to Jesus as ISSA, after "Saint Issa," as Christ is called by Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. That was a historic moment in the West. For most Americans, it’s a name they do not know, and it was news.

"However, the Russian explorer, Nicolas Notovitch, first brought news of Issa to the attention of the Christian world after discovering a curious ancient manuscript in the Himis Monastery high in the Himalayas in Ladakh, India, near Tibet. The manuscript, which was compiled from several scrolls, was given the translated title of THE LIFE OF SAINT ISSA: THE BEST OF THE SONS OF MEN.

"From this, Notovitch concluded that the Hidden Years of Jesus Christ, those lost years from ages eighteen to thirty about which the New Testament says almost nothing whatsoever, were largely spent in India. All the New Testament has to say about those years of Christ’s life (one sentence in the Gospel of Luke) is that during those eighteen years Jesus "increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man."

"Notovitch concluded, from the ancient manuscript he studied, that in fact Jesus had lived among and studied among Hindus and Buddhists before returning to his native land of Judea at about age thirty to be baptized by John the Baptist and begin his ministry.

"Elizabeth Clare Prophet was among the first to put together a cohesive account on the significance of the Notovitch manuscript. She concluded in her remarkable book, THE LOST YEARS OF JESUS (Summit University Press), that "the ramifications of Jesus’ Journey to the East are staggering."

"I couldn’t agree more. I tried my best to follow the trail of the available evidence in my film “JESUS IN INDIA” (which by the way is now available on DVD). As the New York Times stated, I "sifted through the legends, myths and evidence" of Jesus’ lost years in India.

"What author Lois Drake has accomplished with considerable success in her book, ISSA, is offering up a literary experience of the Lost Years of Jesus that vividly paints a story of Jesus, or Issa, journeying to India as a young man.

" Using simple but picturesque language, with intuitive flare for conveying Jesus’ religious truths slowly unfolding in the unfamiliar territory of India, her use of words is strikingly poetic. In some ways it is as simple as Haiku or a Zen koan, in other ways as emotionally charged as the moment Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple in Jerusalem.

"This is the sort of challenge Hermann Hesse took on in SIDDHARTHA, in which Hesse helped us as readers to live the developmental years of the young Buddha, or Prince Siddhartha. In the case of Lois Drake’s work, she seizes upon two facets of the Notovitch scrolls to rather brilliantly structure her fictional (but compelling and possible) story about Jesus’ formative years that are "untold" in the New Testament.

"Purportedly while in India, young Jesus opposed the caste system of the Hindus, in which the Brahmins exalted themselves at the expense of the lower castes. Also, Jesus purportedly defied the injunctions against reading the holy works of the Hindus (the Vedas) to the untouchable caste.

"To gain the most from these story points, Lois Drake creates an unforgettable, fictional character named Awa, who is of a low caste from India and who is a servant to Joseph of Arimathea. Awa becomes the catalyst for much of what Jesus learns on his journey to India, as well as a catalyst for Jesus’ outrage at human injustice and man’s mistreatment of his fellow man that he experiences there.

"A comparison between ISSA and Kahlil Gibran’s THE PROPHET is also not far-fetched. Gibran conveys a prophet descending upon a people and bringing to them truth that quenches spiritual thirst, with nuggets of wisdom throughout.

"In ISSA, the young Jesus finds his way, determined always to do the will of his heavenly father, and in the process, he descends upon a people (in India and throughout the far east on the journey) and finds his voice and his truth, which he expresses at every turn, despite every challenge. There are many captivating surprises, especially in the meaning that Maitreya, the Boddhisattva who is the “Coming Buddha,” holds for Jesus as Jesus comes to know his purpose and mission in life.

"Literature does not have to be literally true to elevate the spirit and illuminate a path. Whether Jesus was actually in India is still an unanswered historical question.

"As I have explained in many interviews about my film, we do not know the answer for certain and we may never know it, but as the old saying goes, where there is smoke there is fire – and surrounding the issue of Jesus’ travels in India there is a great deal of smoke, and there has been for centuries.

"If you accept for the sake of argument that Jesus did travel in India, where he became known as Saint Issa, we can still never know whether his sojourn there –the people he met, the lessons he learned, the truths he taught – were in any way a match for what Lois Drake offers us in her novel, ISSA. No matter.

"She creates not a literal truth but a literary truth, a world which stands on its own terms with its own logic, sensitivities and sensibilities.

"By that measure, readers will come to love and respect ISSA, and all who follow the book through to its gripping and unexpected climax will appreciate Lois Drake’s craftsmanship and natural gift for storytelling, as she takes us step by step along with Issa to India, on a journey for the discovery of timeless spiritual truths that have the power to lead humanity to transcendence. "

Paul Davids
April 6, 2009

Copyright ©2009 Summit Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

ISSA - The Greatest Story Never Told

Publication Date:
September 1, 2009

Retail Price: $14.95

Pages: 240