Not the Impossible Faith is a tour de force in that genre, dissecting and refuting the oft-repeated claim that Christianity could not have succeeded in the ancient world unless it was true. Though framed as a detailed rebuttal to Christian apologist J.P. Holding (author of The Impossible Faith), Carrier takes a general approach that educates the listener on the history and sociology of the ancient world, answering many questions like: How did Christians approach evidence? Was there a widespread prejudice against the testimony of women? Was resurrection such a radical idea? Who would worship a crucified criminal? And much more.
Written with occasional humor and an easy style, and thoroughly referenced, with many entertaining "gotcha!" moments, Not the Impossible Faith is a must-listen for anyone interested in the origins of Christianity. Richard Carrier, PhD, is an expert in the history of the ancient world and a critic of Christian attempts to distort history in defense of their faith.
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The only thing I didn't like was the fact that he did a lot of arguing from authority; however, I realize that a good deal of it was him just citing ideas that others had before him (so he wouldn't seem like he was stealing other people's ideas). I realize that this is pretty necessary in a book about history, and the book would've been twice as long without saying "this guy said this, and I'm not going to go into why." Still, if he spent more time explaining his strongest arguments (after citing the source) than beating the dead horse that is "The Impossible Faith" by citing argument after argument and example after example, it would've been much more enjoyable I think.
Still, it was an excellent book, and an excellent critique, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. 100% worth the cost, and then some.
Fish, meet barrel.
- bill doyle