The LA Times’ Gina Piccalo reports that Reverend Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins, the two men responsible for the bestselling apocalyptic series juggernaut – which sold more than 62 million copies and also inspired three low-budget movies, a video game, a lawsuit and charges of anti-Semitism – are embarking on a new project. THE JESUS CHRONICLES will be a series of four novels based on the New Testament, has just been launched by Putnam Praise with a print run of 277,500 copies; Two weeks after its Nov. 21 publication, the book was already in its second printing. And it’s being marketed as a bestseller with several full-page ads in USA Today, a public relations blitz of Christian radio stations, a mailing of more than 10,000 book samplers to “prophecy” conferences and a Christmas appearance on GOOD MORNING AMERICA. “We were even on NPR in New York,” Jenkins said, with a half-smile.
But where the LEFT BEHIND books were all end-of-rapture all the time, JOHN’S STORY aims to draw people to the Bible with a less polarizing story. It comes as the evangelical Christian community’s hold on national power may be loosening, and as those like Lahaye and Jenkins are trying out a tolerance-based message. “People assume we fall into this camp of evangelicalism that is sympathetic to Israel for some self-serving reason, that we want to get certain numbers of them converted so that Jesus can return or we need certain things to be in place in the Holy Land so that Jesus can return,” Jenkins said. Those kind of characterizations, he said, misunderstand the nature of their mission in writing their books. “We believe Jesus is the Messiah, but we’re not looking for a fight.” Just lots and lots more sales….