I recently finished two books, one after the other, about the historical (as opposed to theological) existence of the man we call Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth is the historical man. Jesus Christ in the theological man. The two books, in chronological order (but in my reverse reading order), are Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth“, and Reza Aslan’s more recent “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth“. As you can surmise, both of these books explore the question of who the actual man named Jesus was, as opposed to the myths and religions we’ve created around him. In short, they attempt to analyze the latest historical scholarship about him, while regurgitating it for the layman. In the process they give their own considered opinion about exactly who Jesus was.
Since I began this blog back in 2007, not a month has gone by where I have not written at least one post. So, this being January 31st, and having not written anything this month, I decided I’m not going to purposely ruin that record. It’s a meaningless record, but if it spurs me to write something, then so be it. I’ll write something.
Ehrman’s book (which I have not read yet) apparently concludes that Jesus was not a myth, but actually existed. Carrier is a mythicist, concluding that there is little evidence for an historical Jesus. So it’s not surprising that he might disagree with Ehrman. His conclusion, though, is not very dispassionate. In fact it’s downright harsh, to say the least, at times devolving into the personal.
This recent book by one of my favorite news commentators is subtitled The Unmooring of American Military Power. With the title and subtitle, you can get a good idea of what the thesis of the book is. Think of the Constitution as the dock, with the US Ship of State tied up securely to it. The lines tying the ship to the dock are the laws of the United States, the executive, legislative and judicial branches that create, administer and enforce those laws, and the people that work in those branches of government. Now, consider that two, sometimes all three, branches, or lines, have become frayed and worn, even purposely cut, to the point that they stretch and occasionally snap, leaving the ship to drift away from the dock, completely unmoored to land, subject to the vagaries of currents. And we have forgotten why we tied the ship to the dock in the first place.
You may or may not be aware of the recent clashes the Taliban influenced populace of Afghanistan has had with authorities over the inadvertent and unintentional disposal of a few Qu’rans, resulting in daily protests, suicide bombings and other violence. All over some janitor burning a few books that were probably in the way. I often wonder how this actually can seem to be so horrendous to the protestors that they would resort to such extreme measures to voice their discontent. I can’t imagine getting that upset over the loss of a book.
Not a bad title for a book about the Bible, you gotta admit. The funny thing is, the book convincingly makes the case that much of the Bible and many of the books and letters and tracts that never made it into the Bible, but were contenders (to quote Marlon Brando in another context), were forged.
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car.—Dr. Laurence J. Peter
Everybody loves a good quote. Atheists are no different. We quote mine as well as anybody, although on the whole, I think we pay a little more attention to the accuracy, relevance and completeness of the quotes we use, unlike those liars for Jesus who will pick any quote out of context that even remotely seems to support them, and flog it like a dead horse. They even like to make up quotes. Atheists, in my experience, tend to use quotes more judiciously, and far more accurately.
I haven’t posted a book review here in awhile, so this seemed like a good one to catch up with.
A couple of months ago the local chapter of the PA Nonbelievers gave me a free copy of Dan Barker‘s Godless at the meeting I went to. I gratefully took it home and once the Christmas season was over, I pulled it out and read it.
There are many different types of atheists, ranging from the insincere to the fully committed. Dan Barker is one of those who I think Continue reading →