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Near the end of the award-winning movie “Babe,” a masterful story about a talking pig who is trained as a sheepdog, the narrator tells us, “Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored. For in them lie the seeds of destiny.” The idea for The Mantle as a means of containing supernatural abilities came to me at the Easter reading of the empty tomb story in the Gospel of John (20:1-10). The idea tickled and nagged at me, and I refused to go away. I began to research the empty tomb story and the cloth that covered the head of Jesus. In John’s Gospel story, Mary Magdalene tells Peter and John the stone is rolled away, and Jesus is missing from the tomb. John and Peter ran to the tomb. John arrives firstly as he is a much younger person than Peter. Out of respect, John allows Peter to enter first. Then John entered the empty tomb.

I wondered why the Evangelist John would specifically write about “the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.” Did that fine linen cloth have significance for John or in history? Was there a legend about that cloth? I considered that cloth must contain the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) of Jesus. The blood, sweat, and tears of Jesus had to be on that cloth when the miraculous power of the resurrection surged into the body of Jesus. Then I speculated that cloth was like the mantle that Jesus would have worn when He was alive and ministered as a rabbi. In my research, I found the mantle had a back story documented in the 13th century by Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), a Franciscan Priest from Tuscany. The text is titled Meditations on the Life of Christ. Saint Bonaventure writes the tradition that Mary, the mother of Jesus, covered the naked torso of Jesus with her mantle as he hung from the cross. The Romans knew that exposing a circumcised Jewish man was a sign of shame or a final act of torture. The text attributed to Saint Bonaventure inspired the Spanish artist Ferrer Bassa around the year 1350 to paint an icon depicting this event called Polyptych with Scenes from the Life of Christ, the Life of the Virgin, and Saints, (ca.1345-1350). A polyptych is a painting, an icon, divided into panels with hinges generally used for devotional works placed in churches and chapels. In this work, in one panel, Jesus hangs naked from the cross as the Blessed Mother removes her veil. In the next panel, the veil covers the body of Jesus as a loincloth. In this scene, Mother Mary stands on one side of the cross, and standing with her is Saint John the Evangelist. The mantle displayed in the polyptych used by Mary is white and appears to be of a fine cloth, perhaps linen. The same John who ran to the tomb with Peter is the apostle in the icon. John saw this drama played out before his eyes. The same tradition that inspired Saint Bonaventure speculates that a fine linen mantle was used to cover the head of Jesus in death.

I speculated that John, the youngest disciple and the one referred to as “the beloved disciple” of Jesus, could have easily and secretly taken the mantle from the tomb. In Jewish tradition, a rabbi would give his mantle to a disciple who reached the stage of becoming a rabbi in his own right. John wanted that mantle, not selfishly, but in remembrance of the greatest Rabbi of all time. The mantle was far more than a souvenir. John knew the mantle was a holy relic of his Master. While John knew the mantle held the blood, sweat, and tears of Jesus, he had no way of knowing the mantle held the miraculous powers of the resurrected Jesus. When John was alone, he saw the mantle was miraculously pure white, with no stains of death. After some soul searching, John decided to place the mantle on his own head, and the miracle occurred. Jesus spoke directly to the mind of John. John was then invisible and able to travel at light speed and even be in two places at the same time, just like the Risen Jesus.

Over time, I wrote several chapters of The Mantle in a fictional historical context. I speculated how John used the mantle for miraculous healings. As I wrote, I realized this was a great story in the making and perhaps my own destiny. I gave myself a deadline to finish the book. Once I set that deadline, I received the idea the mantle was passed down in history to 12 people – six wearers of the mantle before the Crusades and six after the Crusades. I decided the mantle would eventually be passed down to a fictitious character named Dr. John Mark Hopkins, who looked a great deal like me. I wrote the book in alternating chapters of history with the present time of John Mark’s possession of the mantle. As I wrote those present-time chapters, I knew the book would have a sequel as John Mark was the eleventh bearer of the mantle. The sequel is titled “Number 12” for the twelfth bearer of the mantle. I then decided the most obvious choice as number 12 would be the son of Dr. John Mark Hopkins, who is Dr. John Luke Hopkins in the book. Dr. John Luke Hopkins also looks and acts a great deal like my own son.

In “The Mantle,” Jesus gave strict instruction to John the Evangelist that the mantle must only be used for the glory of God – not for personal gain or, even worse, a sinful act. The evangelist passed down the mantle in history with these strict instructions. In the book, all the mantle wearers follow these instructions and use the mantle only for good, as Jesus said.

My purpose for writing this book is to tell a positive Christian-themed story woven within scripture and history and enlarged with ideas of my creation. Like most authors, I believe writing this book is my destiny.

Dr. Mark F. Hobson, Ph.D., is an accomplished educator and an ordained minister with a background in education, theology, and business. He is recognized for his educational contributions and has authored Christian historical fiction that explores themes of faith, redemption, and the profound love of a higher power. Dr. Hobson’s work in neuroeducation research sheds light on the intersection of faith and learning, offering insights into higher education journals.

If you’re intrigued by the fascinating narrative of The Mantle and the incredible journey of its protagonist, Dr. John Mark Hopkins, then you won’t want to miss the sequel, Number 12. Dive into the world of faith, history, and miraculous powers passed down through the ages. Visit Dr. Mark F. Hobson’s website at to learn more about the author’s vision and explore the rich web of faith and history that weaves through his literary works. It’s a journey that’s meant to inspire and captivate your imagination.

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