Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Paul as a Midrashic Creation


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

The Book of Acts is written to tell several stories, one of which is the gradual replacement of the Jews by the gentiles as God’s people.

The author’s use of Saul as the precursor or first-life of Paul was chosen to advance this theme of Jews being gradually replaced by the gentiles.

Saul represented the first glory of the Jews, a majestic king and conqueror. But he failed to listen to God’s message through his prophet, Samuel, so was replaced by David. Before that replacement took effect Saul became a persecutor of David, and even killed the priests of Nob, both men and women (I Samuel 22).

According to Maurice Mergui‘s Paul à Patras: Une approche midrashique du paulinismePaul the persecutor as per Acts 8 was worked up from the life of Saul. …

vridar paul midrashic-creation

Maurice Mergui: Paul à Patras: Une approche midrashique du paulinisme


Contrapuntal Consciousness


(Aeon Essays) – Ilari Kaila:

There are good reasons for GEB’s fame besides the sexy and marketable title. In its attempt to build a grand theory of minds and meanings, the book discusses an eclectic range of topics and, at its best, does it in a genuinely enlightening way. It is obviously an inspired work, even if the fundamental case it sets out to make falls flat. Like most attempts at ‘explaining’ consciousness, GEB is rooted in a category mistake: it treats our phenomenological core as just another phenomenon, making the book an 800-page exercise in begging the question. But it’s a stimulating 800 pages, riffing on fractals, Zen koans, computer languages, quantum physics and much more. To his credit, Hofstadter at least senses that the volume of a phonebook is required if you claim to be adding something to this perennial conversation. …

aeon about-consciousness

Douglas R. Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Real Jesus Hiding in the NT?


(Debunking Christianity) – David Madison:

It’s standard practice for art dealers to provide documentation that the works they sell are the real thing; ideally there will be a paper trail showing ownership back to the original artist. At the end of movies there are several minutes of rolling credits, hundreds of names, of all the people who helped make the film. At the end of any biography, the reader can find the sources used, commonly hundreds of them: this is where the information comes from – and any curious researcher can find them as well.

A couple of hundred years ago, Bible scholars began to grapple with the inconvenient truth that the gospels – those iconic titles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – have no such anchors: No documentation, credits at the end, or identified sources. They seem to position themselves as history, but what’s the evidence for that?

So, without the documentation, any list of credits or identified sources, just what are the gospels? Yes, they are theology, but what if the gospel of Mark – which all the others copied, referred to and modified – was never even intended as history? R. G. Price’s 2018 book, Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed, presents the case for that. Price, a software engineer and data analyst, demonstrates his skills as a detective, looking behind the façade of the gospels to get at what really happened. His book is highly readable, and can help laypeople grasp why a real Jesus is subject to doubt. …

debunking real-jesus-hiding

R. G. Price: Deciphering the Gospels - Proves Jesus Never Existed

All About “2001: A Space Odyssey”


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

A new book Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, And The Making Of A Masterpiece by Michael Benson has just come out and it has pretty much everything that aficionados of the film might want, starting with the backstories of the director Stanley Kubrick and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke and how they met and the collaboration developed, as well as the intricacies of the filmmaking. …

singham about-2001

Michael Benson: Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, And The Making Of A Masterpiece

The Gospels as Ancient Jewish Literature


(Vridar) – Neil Godfrey:

Understanding the Gospels as Ancient Jewish Literature by Jeffrey P Garcia makes for an excellent gift for anyone who is a seriously interested beginner to the field. And the focus is entirely on the Jewish heritage in the gospels.

The chapters discuss the various Jewish literatures within the gospel world (Second Temple writings, rabbinic literature), the geography of the stories covered by the gospels, Jewish life as evidenced in the gospels (home-life, clothing, religious groups, synagogues, women, the temple, and so forth), Jewish styles of teaching, political and ethical life, and finally “the gospels as the first literary witness to Jewish practice” such as naming on the eighth day, ritual fringes, sabbath synagoge attendance, and more. The text appears to be sound (as one would expect from Jeffrey P. Garcia) and caution comes through where scholars are less than certain about specific customs and events. …

vridar gospels-as-ancient-jewish-literature

Jeffrey P. Garcia: Understanding the Gospels as Ancient Jewish Literature

Dangerous Illusions


(Rational Doubt) – Karen L. Garst, Linda LaScola:

Dangerous Illusions is the most thorough and well-researched book that I have ever read that shows the “chimera” that religion is.

Vitaly Malkin studied ancient philosophers in order to define reason as it was viewed before monotheism such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam took hold. These philosophers developed general laws that dealt with the world and “a system of proof to support them.”[p.47] While the ancient Greeks and Romans had a pantheon of gods, there was no developed monotheism and the gods were very human in character. These gods did not stand in the way of developing a “purely human morality.”[p.51]

However, starting with the first millennium BCE, a monotheistic religion, Judaism, developed that “resulted not in the blooming of reason but in its general impoverishment.” [p.57] Mystical experiences, venerated texts, and a close-knit tribal population, started to substitute for the Greek notion of reason. The impact of monotheism has been tremendous. As Malkin points out, there were no religious wars during paganism. The Romans were so lazy that they just adopted the Greek gods and renamed them. But no nation fought wars over Zeus or Athena. You don’t need to know a lot of history to recite a few of the religion wars that killed millions of people – the Crusades, the slaughter of the Cathars, the Holocaust and today the rise of ISIS. …

rationaldoubt dangerous-illusions

Vitaly Malkin: Dangerous Illusions: How Religion Deprives Us of Happiness

The State of Scholarly Mythicism


(Debunking Christianity) – R.G. Price:

After publishing Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed in late 2018 I have become increasingly engaged in the field of biblical studies and Christian origins. The subject of mythicism is a complex one that is fraught with problems, as is the entire subject of Christian origins, because of the vast array of competing claims in the field, some of which are of dubious academic quality. Nevertheless, I believe that the field is maturing and has reached a point of growing consensus around a model for Christian origins without the existence of a human Jesus. …

What I’d like to do here is review major works of scholarship that support this overall model to highlight how these works contribute to the model and where they disagree. The works I will be reviewing are as follows:

debunking 2019/04 scholarly-mythicism

R.G.Price: selection of historicity books

Apocalypse Is Now


(NYTimes Books) – Jennifer Szalai:

David Wallace-Wells is a deputy editor of New York magazine, where two years ago he published an article on climate change that went viral, understandably so; in 7,000 eloquent words, he bluntly laid out the calamitous costs of doing nothing — or, perhaps more realistically and therefore more menacingly, of doing something but not enough.

His new book revisits that approach, expanding his portrait of a planetary nightmare that, to judge by climatologists’ assessments, will soon take over our waking life.

There’s plenty of science consulted here, but the book, he writes, isn’t about the science of warming: “It is about what warming means to the way we live on this planet.” …

nytimes 2019/03/06 uninhabitable-earth

David Wallace-Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth - Life after Warming

The “Case for Christ” Fabrication


( – Valerie Tarico:

Many Evangelicals think of Lee Strobel as the man who can cure your doubts about their religion. His 1998 book, The Case for Christ, has sold millions of copies, was made into a 2017 movie by the same name, and was recently re-issued in a “new and updated” edition.

The problem, according to author and religion critic David Fitzgerald (and others), is that key parts of this story are distorted at best and fabricated at worst. Fitzgerald is the author of Nailed and Jesus: Mything in Action, part of The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion series. In this interview, he discusses how Strobel stretches the truth to the breaking point, and why. …

valerietarico lee-strobel-fabricated

David Fitzgerald: Nailed+Jesus

Beyond Weird: Quantum Physics


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

In Beyond Weird, Philip Ball argues that ultimately quantum mechanics is not a theory about how tiny particles behave but instead comprises a set of rules for representing and manipulating information (a notoriously slippery concept) and the causative influences involved in a system and about what is and is not knowable about it. He uses that framework to discuss recent advances in entanglement, quantum cryptography, quantum teleportation, quantum computing, and the Many Worlds interpretation and other alternatives to the Copenhagen interpretation. …

singham 2019/03/21 beyond-weird

Philip Ball: Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics Is Different