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Richard Carrier's book is more about the application of Bayes's Theorem to history in general than it is about the historical Jesus specifically. No doubt, many people are put off by the idea of using mathematics to separate what is likely true about the past from what is not, but what is our knowledge of things past if it is not fundamentally uncertain? Personally, I like Carrier's approach. It gives a consistent formality and structured process to determining what most likely actually happened, given all of our evidence, while taking into account the presence of uncertainty. Carrier says over and over again that it will not work if historians are not honest with themselves and with their colleagues. I suspect that at the root of opposition to this approach is that its use requires facing down our biases, never an easy thing to do.
I am neither a historian nor a mathematician. This book was not easy for me to plow through, but it was worth the effort. My white board is covered with forulae that I'll be thinking about some time to come. I look forward to Carrier's next book.
The reader did a very good job, in spite of the fact that a lot of the text was equations and formulae.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Proving History again? Why?
"Proving History," as a book, is excellent, and I highly recommend it. While it's the opening volume in Richard Carrier's examination of the historical Jesus, it stands alone as a text on the philosophy, study, and practice of History, itself. I would recommend it to any student of history, whether amateur enthusiast or academic, regardless of an interest in the subject of Jesus' historicity or Biblical Studies. I wouldn't be surprised if this book, or excerpts from it, became required reading in History classes across the board, and as a student of History, I would recommend a copy of "Proving History" as a reference on the shelf of anyone at all serious about the subject.
All that said, as an *audio* book, I found it lacking. This is not a criticism of Richard Carrier's performance; he continues to narrate his own books better than many professional voice actors. His diction is clear, steady without being monotonous, and generally, I find that he brings an enthusiasm to sections which could easily be very dry. No, the fault lies with the book itself. The material covered is complex and dense, and while an effort was made to try and explain verbally what was communicated in the text with pictures, symbols, and numbers, I still found it very difficult to follow--and I'd both read the book previously, and listened to several lectures by the author on the subject. I really don't think there's any way to make it into a good, stand-alone audio book, without re-writing large portions of the original (though I'd strongly disapprove of such a re-write because of my great admiration for the book itself.) Likewise, I'd be against abridging the book and taking out the more difficult passages to communicate verbally, as they are integral to understanding the book as a whole. Ultimately, I think this is an audio book best enjoyed in conjunction with a text copy of the book to read.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What would have made Proving History better?
It's difficult to see how this could be improved as it is certainly a detailed piece of work, but much more suited to those who need to understand the technicalities of Bayes's Theorem.
Would you ever listen to anything by Richard Carrier again?
Yes, I've already listened to all his other Audio books, and they are excellent.
What does Richard Carrier bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
Richard's tone and enthusiasm for his work is clearly evident.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Any additional comments?
My lack of interest in this particular book is no way a criticism of Richard or the quality of his work. Indeed, it is clear that all his work is of the highest quality, but this book is just too technical for me. All his other books are excellent, and, for anyone interested in the field, 'On the Historicity of Jesus' is essential reading!
Would you try another book written by Richard Carrier or narrated by Richard Carrier?
What was most disappointing about Richard Carrier’s story?
he spent hours saying basically the same thing
What didn’t you like about Richard Carrier’s performance?
A+C+D-true H = A lot of bored confused people
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Proving History?
Most of it
Any additional comments?
0 of 3 people found this review helpful