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What a great book to listen to. Well organized, wonderfully narrated. Get it.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is a deeply disappointing book. Paul Johnson is a wonderful writer, and I love his books (although I almost never agree with his politics). He's fearless and iconoclastic in his opinions. His histories of Christianity and of Judaism are chock-full of fascinating information, and his long narrative paragraphs roll effortlessly off the page.
Here, Johnson shows a credulous side I wouldn't have expected. He rejects -- in fact never even mentions -- the vast research done on the composition of the Gospels and the relationships between them. If Matthew and Luke relate the same story in almost the same words, he counts them as two independent witnesses, and even finds it remarkable that the wording is so close: nowhere does he mention the prevailing opinion among scholars, that both are quoting a common source. This isn't a question of faith vs. skepticism. Some of the most brilliant work in this field has been done by Catholic scholars (and priests) like John P. Meier and Raymond Brown. Johnson will have none of it. He's produced not so much a biography as a lightly harmonized interpretation of the Gospels with an occasional glance at the historical background.
The publisher seems to have been of two minds about it. Some editions carry the subtitle "A 21st Century Biography." Others carry the subtitle "A Biography by a Believer." The second is a far more accurate description of the book than the first. You don't write a 21st century biography by throwing out the analysis of anyone who lived later than the 16th century.
9 of 18 people found this review helpful