In his letter of Jan. 24, Kenneth Bonnell names "The Passover Plot" (1966) as an early treatment of Jesus not dying on the cross. There is an earlier (and better) one: George Moore's 1916 book "The Brook Kerith" (Liveright Publishing Co.).
Moore (1852-1933) was a prolific and popular turn-of-the-century Irish author who caused a veritable firestorm among Christians with his premise that Jesus was taken down from the cross--alive--by Joseph of Arimathaea, and secretly nursed back to health by him. Afterward, Jesus spent the rest of his life with the Essenes, at their colony by the brook Kerith.
Ironic that Moore was a Roman Catholic, apparently "in grace." He was excellent at setting the scene and making you feel as though you were really in it. And the last scene of the book is breathtaking, when Jesus meets--well, you read it for yourself; it's still a very good read.
LOUIS C. KILGORE