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In February, The New York Times noted that Tim LaHaye had received an advance of about $45 million from Bantam Dell for four non-Left Behind novels. Jerry Jenkins, who actually wrote the apocalyptic series, wasn't part of the deal.

When CTpassed along the news that Jenkins had been "left behind" in this "mega book deal," it drew a terse response from Jerry Jenkins, who denied that he had been shafted. Jenkins's letter explained that the two are still friends and expect to continue to work together for some time, while they pursue side projects. Even so, one big questions remains: Was Bantam Dell wise to hire LaHaye but not Jenkins?

LaHaye admitted earlier this year to Time magazine that as a novelist, he makes a pretty good theologian. For Left Behind, he supplied his best-selling name—the LaHayes' marriage manual, for instance, sold into the millions—the apocalyptic framework, an outline, and advice along the way. That left most of the job of fashioning the actual books to Jenkins. While there is no doubt that LaHaye's marquee name helped to launch the Left Behind series into orbit (last year's installment, for instance, outsold all other novels in the U.S.), the bestsellers have become a phenomenon unto themselves. There was no guarantee that slapping LaHaye's name on a new series without trying to mimic some of the other Left Behind components ( hiring Jenkins ) could assure the new series' financial success.

As it happens, there may be a way to get some indication of whether the executives of Bantam might have a sure-fire hit on their hands—LaHaye has already coauthored another fiction series, this one with Focus on the Family alum Bob DeMoss. It's called the Soul Survivor series. The first three books have been released, ...

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