An excellent companion to Reza Aslan's Zealot. Where Aslan is more general in the presentation of textual evidence, Ehrman delves into the details. HeAn excellent companion to Reza Aslan's Zealot. Where Aslan is more general in the presentation of textual evidence, Ehrman delves into the details. He spends an appropriate amount of time educating the reader on how textual evidence is weighed and investigated by biblical scholarship, which is fundamental for the reader to grasp the evidence he later presents. After this introduction to textual exegesis, Ehrman spends time presenting the various personalities of the "Mythicist" position and their major arguments. He then proceeds to discuss the evidence for the historical Jesus. In the next section he dismantles the Mythicist position systematically.
While many readers will find Did Jesus Exist much drier reading than Aslan, those with a more academic bent, and those wanting a more detailed examination of the evidence for the historical Jesus will find it here. I was suitably impressed with Ehrman's detailed analysis and his willingness to approach the Mythicist position, if not with sympathy, evenhandedly. The introductory material where he discusses how textual criticism is used by biblical scholars was, for me, not necessary, however those with little familiarity with these techniques will find it invaluable.
I recommend reading both Did Jesus Exist and Zealot together as companion pieces. They compliment each other very well....more
While the first third of "The Ark Before Noah" can be somewhat dry, especially to the casual reader, Finkel sets the foundation of assyriology and cunWhile the first third of "The Ark Before Noah" can be somewhat dry, especially to the casual reader, Finkel sets the foundation of assyriology and cuneiform writing and an over view of the writing system and a brief history of the cultures that produced it. This is necessary for the remainder of the book relies on at least a basic understanding of cuneiform texts and the myths they record.
Once this preliminary matter is dispensed with, Finkel clearly and entertainingly explains the Mesopotamian flood myths and provides a plausible thesis for their transmission to Judaism (and hence to Islam and Christianity). A profoundly interesting book for people who are interested in not just flood myths but for anyone with a hunger for history, religious studies and mythology.
Many readers will not find as much to enjoy here as I, and some sort of advanced degree is recommended although the layman will still be able to grasp all of the required material....more
An excellent introduction to the aims and methods of biblical textual criticism by one of the leaders in the field. By way of examples, the author shoAn excellent introduction to the aims and methods of biblical textual criticism by one of the leaders in the field. By way of examples, the author shows how, when and why the texts of the New Testament were changed and the difficulties in reconstructing the originals. Aimed at the non-specialist, Ehrman presents the field and the major points of its history and the techniques used by textual critics to uncover what the New Testament really says and how the varying texts impact both the message of the Bible and the faith of Christianity.
At the same time, it is not specifically a book for Christians but intended for anyone interested in the history of the New Testament texts and their transmission to the modern day. Misquoting Jesus will be of interest to anyone in the field of biblical studies, history and religion....more
A fascinating exposition of a theory sure to stir controversy. Nicholas Wade carefully and convincingly puts forth the hypothesis that religion, far fA fascinating exposition of a theory sure to stir controversy. Nicholas Wade carefully and convincingly puts forth the hypothesis that religion, far from being a delusion, or "mental illness" as Dawkins claims, is actually an evolutionary adaptation that selects at the group level. Wade argues that the ubiquitousness of religion, which must pre-date all civilization and perhaps language, could only have survived the crucible of Darwin if it conferred some advantage to the ancestors of human beings.
While the theory of group level evolutionary selection is not yet widely accepted, within the constraints of Wade's argument, his hypothesis is sound. Wade shows how ancestral mankind would have required some sort of social cohesion mechanism to have survived the rigours of pre-historic Earth. He further argues that religion, or that the least religiosity, would have provided not only the means to bind small social groups together, but could project that cohesion outwards into societal and cultural growth.
In support of his argument Wade discusses several aspects of religion and evolution that will be of great interest. The history of the world's great religions (particularly the monotheisms), the evolutionary pressures that would have given rise to a mechanism of social cohesion and law, the physiology and psychology of humans and current trends in both religion and secular society provide sufficient evidence for his theory. There is a wealth of information here, of interest to even those readers who would reject Wade's hypothesis.
Furthermore, Wade is careful not to "pick sides" in the controversy of whether religion is necessary for sustained human society, but rather points out how religion can provide a much more law abiding and stable culture. Wade places careful emphasis that modern secular states have replaced many of the functions that religion would have provided early, prehistoric and historic man. Of particular interest is the argument, touched only briefly, that because religion is an evolutionary adaptation it is a part of our consciousness and physiology and so cannot ever truly go extinct. This last argument fits nicely with my own theory of "secular" religion wherein the religious impulse of the individual finds catharsis in group activities such as raves, music concerts and "Burning Man" type of festivals.
This book is a must read for all students of religion (and perhaps theology) and represents some of the newest thinking in the field of comparative religion. The non-specialist will also find much of interest here and Wade is careful not to become too academic in his writing. If you have any interest in religion, its impact on mankind's evolution and history and the future of religion in an increasingly secular world, this book is an excellent choice. ...more
This is a must have for every serious student of the occult or ceremonial magic. It is an indespensible reference work and tables of correspondences fThis is a must have for every serious student of the occult or ceremonial magic. It is an indespensible reference work and tables of correspondences for almost every occult school....more