CT ad for SIMON

(from Christianity Today)


(from UU World magazine)


“A beautifully imagined life of Simon of Cyrene.” –St. Anthony Messenger


The Gospel of Simon wins medal in the 2017 Indie Book Awards, an international prize for the best books published worldwide by independent and university presses.


In a letter from the Vatican in March of 2017, Pope Francis thanked John Smelcer for the gift of The Gospel  of Simon.


“In an age when America is clearly divided and fear and anger are on daily display, this short but pithy work offers hope for something a whole lot better . . . Smelcer’s Simon of Cyrene is almost immediate in connecting to the humanity in us, with all our vulnerabilities. Marvelously crafted and researched.”  -Kentucky Monthly


“The Gospel of Simon can serve as a primer to teach us about compassion and humility. It is a spiritual gift, and I am grateful to John Smelcer for writing it. For me as a social justice activist and scholar, what moved me the most is Smelcer’s emphasis, with much simplicity, on how our spirituality or faith can be a force for justice in the world. It is a book that I will keep in my spiritual activist toolbox and refer to as a resource whenever I am confronted by moments of spiritual weaknesses in my daily work for justice.”  -Victor Narro, Tikkun


“John Smelcer is a powerful channel for God’s love in our world.” -Matthew McVarish, UK actor, writer, activist, and chair of the Global Survivor Forum, finding solutions for childhood sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and child marriage (photo M. McVarish & Pope Francis, 2015)



The Gospel of Simon is a daring retelling of ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told,’ in telling the story of Jesus’s crucifixion through a minor figure who could illustrate his impact on the most ordinary of people. John Smelcer pulls off the admirable challenge of writing simply in the manner of a fable or Jesus’s parables while also speaking directly to contentious issues of the modern world. As the wide variety of jacket quotes attests, this presentation of the core Gospel message, at once faithful to the source and radical in its reimagining, will appeal to the faithful of virtually any religious tradition, and also to honest spiritual seeker aligned with none.”  -Dr. Dereck Daschke, Prof. of Religion & Philosophy, Truman State University


The Gospel of Simon presents a practical, approachable Jesus and brings the gospel narrative, and particularly the Sermon on the Mount, into a fresh perspective.”  Fr. Leo Walsh, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome


[The Gospel of Simon] “is a much-needed reminder of love and hope for an uncertain and increasingly violent world…If you need inspiration, you just might find it within these pages.” -Historical Novel Society (USA & UK)


“A classic.” X. J. Kennedy, editor, LITERATURE


“Some stories can change our lives. Some stories can change the world. This story can do both.”  -Ann McGovern, author of the classic children’s book, Stone Soup


Click here to read an interview about The Gospel of Simon in the Ithaca Times


“Smelcer’s dialogue [between Jesus and Simon of Cyrene] mirrors the markers of disunity disrupting many facets of our contemporary lives. The story includes…a cliffhanger plot that comes to a swift and startling conclusion. You, like me, might find the book hard to put down and will be tempted to quickly read its 150 pages. That’s fine, but I’m guessing you’ll want to return to it time and again to tease out more truths. This type of book is overdue in Christian literature, and presents a life-changing narrative for those who’ve lost their faith, for those who are disgusted with the religious attitudes of some, or those who are looking for an encounter with something or someone greater than themselves. The Gospel of Simon is an enjoyable and inspirational read. I can imagine it having a significant impact on spiritual thinking.”  -Chris Thompson, Alaska Dispatch News


“From an obscure passage in the Bible when a Roman soldier plucks a curious observer from a straining crowd lining the road to Golgotha and directs him to share the burden of an exhausted Christ by helping him carry his cross the final distance to his crucifixion, John Smelcer generates a contrapuntal dialog as witness to the untold story of Simon. Simon, who became a believer. Simon, whose sons and grandsons through generations would protect and defend the truths and proofs inherent in their story…Smelcer’s tale does not come across as sermonizing, but as an internal dialog wherein he finds himself asking and answering — without being disingenuous — the same questions even the most devout will ask of themselves. In The Gospel of Simon, Smelcer explores the deplorable. In showing us a man who answered the call, he also shows us there is a righteous, if not religious, path forward, if only we allow ourselves to take it.”  -Mike Foldes, Ragazine


“As a Roman Catholic priest, there are parts of this book that challenged me and gave me pause to think. I can’t say much without the risk of spoiling the book’s many surprises. Having said that, there is much to admire in the way Smelcer has told a story that we all know, but rarely have considered so profoundly. In this retelling of Jesus’s Passion from the point of view of Simon of Cyrene, who the Bible tells us helped Jesus to carry the heavy cross to Golgotha, Smelcer portrays an emotional Jesus who smiles, laughs, and is even playful at times. At its heart, this is a book about love—God’s love for us. In a bold and evocative re-imagining that is at once authentic yet also thoroughly modern, this heartfelt story speaks directly to us, reminding us of Jesus’s message of love, compassion, mercy, inclusion, and peace. The Gospel of Simon is a timely and timeless book that readers will turn to again and again to reflect on favorite dog-eared passages. A remarkable and unforgettable book. ”  -Fr. William Kottenstette, Midwest Book Review


“Smelcer has done a masterful job of making Jesus’ message accessible. He brings in issues that are in the news now. Politics and religion, the two areas we are taught are too volatile to discuss in social situations, are discussed honestly and bravely. The story cuts through our cultural barriers of religion, politics, power and greed to the basic universal message of love and compassion for mankind. It reinforces fundamentals of Jesus’ message, without the human constructs that distract us. It is a book about love, mercy, compassion and kindness. In these universal messages it crosses boundaries and touches us all, regardless of our religious or political leanings.”  -amazon (5 stars)