Dan Brown, author of "The Da Vinci Code," is hard at work on another thriller. This time, he says, the book will explore the inner world of the Masons and the Mormons.

I'm sure it will be a blockbuster filled with symbols and assassins and sultry seductresses.

I'm sure the Masons and Mormons can't wait.

When I read about Brown's new book, however, my mind flashed on something else — something I came across in one of those magazines that explain the Bible. According to more and more scholars, the trusty King James Version got it wrong — again. When Jesus goes back to Nazareth and the people say, "Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary," the text should really read, "Is this not the stonemason, the son of Mary."

Jesus, scholars say, was a mason. He worked in stone, not wood. Instead of saws and nails he handled squares and compasses, chisels and hammers.

And he would have been built, himself, like a block of granite.

For now, I'm waiting for more evidence to roll in. But it's interesting how that one little adjustment — from seeing Jesus as a carpenter to seeing him as a mason — sends a ripple through all the gospels.

When Jesus said he would tear the temple down and build it up in three days, of course they would have thought he meant Herod's temple. The man was a stone mason.

When he tells the haughty Jews that God could raise children of Abraham from the stones, did he mean "hew children of Abraham" from those stones?

When he says to give our hungry sons bread — not stones. When he talks of millstones around a neck and buildings where one stone will not be left upon another; when he describes himself as a stone the builders rejected who will become the cornerstone.

When he gives Simon the nickname Peter — a word that comes from "petrify" — a nickname that means solid, hard, resilient. A nickname that means "stone."

When Jesus did all of that, was he drawing from his childhood and his own personal experience?

When he worked his square and compass on rock did he see eternal truths at work?

When he chipped and chiseled blocks of marble did the fashioning of worlds come to his mind?

Modern scholars say there's a good chance of that. They say there's a chance Jesus was, indeed, a mason.

And as for Brown and his latest book, what slippery thoughts are running through his mind? As with "The Da Vinci Code," will he find a way to pull Jesus into the plot — to see him as the "cornerstone" of all things Mason and Mormon?

Stay tuned. We'll find out together.

For now, however, I only know this. Whatever Brown concocts, it will never have the staying power of the real thing. Popular novels come and go. It's what they are, "novel." But if you are looking for something to withstand the winds of time and the waves of criticism, you need something a little more resilient than paper and pencils.

You better find yourself a good stone mason.

And build your house upon a rock.

E-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com