This epic, thrilling journey through Bible scholarship and ancient religion shows how much of Scripture is historically false - yet the ancient writings also resound with theologies that crisscrossed the primeval world and that direct us today toward a deep, authentic inner experience of the truly sacred.
From a historical perspective, the Bible is shockingly, provably wrong - a point supported by today's best archaeological and historical scholarship but not well understood by (or communicated to) the public. Yet this emphatically does not mean that the Bible isn't, in some very real measure, true, argues scholar of mysticism Richard Smoley.
Smoley reviews the most authoritative historical evidence to demonstrate that figures such as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus are not only unlikely to have existed but bear strong composite resemblances to other Near Eastern religious icons. Likewise, the geopolitical and military events of Scripture fail to mesh with the largely settled historical time line and social structures. Smoley meticulously shows how our concepts of the Hebrew and Christian God, including Christ himself, are an assemblage of ideas that were altered, argued over, and edited - until their canonization. This process, to a large degree, gave Western civilization its consensus view of God.
But these conclusions are not cause for nihilism or disbelief. Rather, beneath the metaphorical figures and mythical historicism of Scripture appears an extraordinary, truly transcendent theology born from the most sacred and fully realized spiritual and human insights of the antique Eastern world. Far from being untrue, the Bible is remarkably, extraordinarily true, as it connects us to the sublime insights of our ancient ancestors and points to a unifying ethic behind many of the world's faiths.
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Godward through Jesus
Best scholarship summary.
The author's readiness to share his own conclusions that differ from critical scholarly consensus.
Loved that the author read his own work. Particularly moved by the post-modern dance where skepticism about skepticism leads to transformed faith.
No. Much too long. Savored listening to the book on long vacation bike rides through the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
I found the author's exploration of the Kingdom of God as a spiritual or meditative reality to be very helpful. I do resist his reading of the New Testament as subordinationist. I remain more open to a Trinitarian interpretation of God than the author does. I rest with Sally McFague's coinage "look Godward through Jesus" as a way of seeing both the human Jesus and a vector ultimately leading to the 2nd person of the Trinity. The author makes his most poetic remarks in his conclusion where he invokes faith in the God revealed through Jesus as a way of participating in a greater unity that was lost in Adam, but regained in the resurrected Christ. I recommend this book very highly because it works both as an introduction to modern biblical scholarship for the novice, but also as a provocative conversation partner for those who are already familiar with the field.
- N. Teikmanis
Erhman without that hard edge...
Not better per se, but I prefer listening (I usually also obtain the print version, so I can re-read anything that didn't come through clearly, or came through too fast for me to follow.)
Smoley gives a very accessible, easy to follow, gentle introduction to the "truth" about the current scholarly consensus about the the Bible's historicity -- and he does it without Bart Ehrman's smarmy superiority (I really like Ehrman & have read many of his books, but he can be slightly grating sometimes).
Smoley! He comes across as so geniune, friendly, and willing/wanting to share.
More Smoley please!