Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye

By Len Bailey

Review By Casey Fedde

Categories: Bible Study, David, Jesus (Healings), Old Testament / New Testament

It's New Testament Israel at the Mount of Olives. Men, women, and children are gathered around a solitary man. The scribes and Pharisees enter, dragging in a disheveled woman. " 'Teacher!' said the spokesman for the religious leaders.... 'This woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law of Moses, it commands us to stone such women.... Now, what do you say?' "

The crowd looks at the solitary man. One word from him and the woman dies. Unexpectedly, the solitary man stoops and, using his finger, writes on the ground. He proclaims, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

" 'Holmes! That is the Christ–!' began Watson...."

Jesus stoops and again writes on the ground.

" 'Why are we here, Sherlock?' inquired the doctor.... 'I cannot think of any mystery here worth investigating.' "

This is not your typical retelling of John 8:2-11 in the Bible. But hand Sherlock Holmes, London's famous fictional detective, a Bible and a time machine and he will sleuth his way through Scripture.

Author Len Bailey unleashes the witty and well-versed Holmes and Dr. John Watson to solve the Bible's ultimate mysteries in "Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye." The detective and the doctor time-travel through the Old and New Testaments to shed light on 10 stories as well as unravel some of the stories' most perplexing details. For example, why did Ahithophel hang himself? (See 2 Samuel 17:1-14, 23.) Why did David choose five stones to battle Goliath? (See 1 Samuel 17:40-50.) And what did Jesus write in the dirt on that morning when a woman's life hung in the balance (page 29)?

Even though Holmes and Watson are fictional characters, there's plenty to learn from the Baker Street boys' sleuthing skills. As pastor, writer, and Bible teacher Warren W. Wiresbe says in the book's foreword, taking a page from another Holmes novel, " 'It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement.' That principle applies also to Bible study...."

In each biblical mystery, Holmes and Watson observe the people and setting and then return to London to consult scholarly experts or other books of the Bible for additional clues – a practice not much different than what is employed by those who study Scripture today. If only today's readers had a time-traveling machine! For those who wish to familiarize themselves with each mystery's environment before delving into the case – to try to beat the sleuths at their own game – investigative questions are included at the end of the book.

"The Needle's Eye" successfully melds Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Victorian-era detective series with the Scriptures. And by doing so, Bailey gives readers – both those familiar with these biblical stories and those who are not – a seriously good adventure. By the end of the "Needle's Eye," the Bible's most puzzling passages may seem rather elementary.