An incredibly powerful story of the immeasurable sadness that tyranny can cause. Hisham has the skill of describing his characters in such a sympathetAn incredibly powerful story of the immeasurable sadness that tyranny can cause. Hisham has the skill of describing his characters in such a sympathetic way that you feel deeply connected to them. It says a lot for what he has lived through that an autobiographical book would be so much more gripping than his novels. ...more
The author's journey in this book begins with the simple idea: to a Christian who believes that the Bible is the absolute and verbally-inspired word oThe author's journey in this book begins with the simple idea: to a Christian who believes that the Bible is the absolute and verbally-inspired word of God, how could one base their actions or build their life around it without understanding exactly what it says? Surely this would necessitate understanding the original wording?
This turns out to be much more complex than anticipated. A single text called the bible did not initially exist in early Christianity. The 27 books of different authorship which make up the New Testament were first named together in their present form some time in the second half of the 4th century; before this (and even long after) there were many other acts, epistles and gospels in circulation. And even after this the question wasn't settled.
We don't have the originals of all these books. We don't have a copy, or even a copy of a copy. The first ones we have are from hundreds of years later, and studies have shown tens of thousands of differences between them. Many are just spelling, or synonyms, many completely trivial, but some are fabrications or omissions with significant impact on theology.
Examples include the last 12 verses of Mark, which deal with the resurrection, being completely absent from the oldest manuscripts, and having an abrupt change in writing style. Other well-known sections are the same, including the story of the woman taken in adultery in John. There are wider divergences, such as the fact that Matthew and Luke never portray Jesus as angry, but and always rewrite their source Mark when he does do so. A telling of the crucifixion in which Jesus is anguished, bordering on despair, changes to depict him as calm and imperturbable, even losing the famous "why hast thou forsaken me" line.
Some of these differences can be traced by the geographic origin and era of their writing to the locations of theological struggles between different sects in early Christianity before the institutionalisation of an orthodoxy. Others involve scribes trying to "correct" readings they believe are wrong, harmonize differences, or are even assert strongly-held views such as the right place of women in society. Others still are mere copying blunders - not uncommon in a largely illiterate society.
This isn't a heavy work of textual criticism or even an attempt to solve these problems, but it's a brilliant introduction for a layperson to the issues and the scholarship surrounding them and solutions that have been attempted. Some of the "rules of thumb" discussed are fascinating and counter-intuitive, and Dr Ehrman's conclusion on the nature of text and interpretation is thought-provoking....more
The harrowing and phenomenally told story of three generations of women growing up in China, from the author's grandmother, the concubine of a warlordThe harrowing and phenomenally told story of three generations of women growing up in China, from the author's grandmother, the concubine of a warlord and part of the last generation to have her feet bound at the end of the Qing dynasty, to her mother, a revolutionary and a communist official, to her own youth, surviving the turbulence of Maoism and the cultural revolution when her family became "capitalist-roader" targets....more