None of the Google Books links work for me, though.
The Bible And Christianity - The Historical Origins A rational, secular, historical perspective on the history of Christianity and its scripture An essay by Scott Bidstrup "If the truth is that ugly -- which it is -- then we do have to be careful about the way that we tell the truth.
But to somehow say that telling the truth should be avoided because people may respond badly to the truth seems bizarre to me. Paul's Catholic Church The Bible is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to Christians, especially, it is a source of inspiration and a guide to daily living.
To others, the Bible is a historical document and a source of controversy. To others still, the Bible is a self-contradictory mish-mash of arcane rules and proscriptions, mostly relevant to long-dead cultures in far away places. What is the truth in all of this? The reality is that it is all true to an extent, and equally nonsensical at the same time.
The Bible has meaning to all its readers, but it is important to consider that the meaning it has is informed by the prejudices the reader brings to it. To really understand the Bible and what it intends to say to present generations, it is necessary to understand who wrote it and why, and the cultural context in which it was written.
The story is an interesting one, in no small part because the story is so much messier than most of its advocates would have you to believe. And its very messiness is why it is a story rarely told in any completeness to Christian audiences. The overriding theme of the Bible storylines is the theme of cultural conquest.
Conquest by the Hebrews over their enemy neighbors, culturally by the Jews over the Israelites used here to mean members of the ten "lost" tribesthe Christians over the Jews, the Catholics over the Gnostics, Marcionites, and other pre-Catholic factions, and on and on. In some cases, the conquest is recorded as a historical, often military event.
In others, it merely is recorded as a change in content and context, an alteration of the storyline and outlook and worldview. And the story of the editing and translation of the final form of the Bible into what today is regarded as holy scripture is a story not just of cultural conquest, but of political intrigues, and not just between competing bishops, but with secular political authority itself.
It is as if the U. The effect of its origins as selected parts of whole bodies of scripture, written by at least a hundred and fifty different people in dozens of different places at different times, many centuries apart, and for different reasons, colors what its authors wrote.
Yet that simple fact is widely ignored, both by people who naively follow what they read in it as the inerrant word of God, and by more liberal scholastic theologians, who seek to understand its historical context as well as a body of doctrinal scripture, which they often blindly follow, even though they know full well its messy origins.
Origins of the Earliest Scripture Prehistory to B. This book is an excellent survey of the current state of Old Testament archaeology. It will be of considerable interest to both skeptic and apologist alike!
This book was a best-seller on the New York Times best seller list and for good reason: A History of God: Scholars have traced the roots of many of the Old Testament stories to the ancient, pagan myths of the ancient Mesopotamian cultures.
In the Fertile Crescent, the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in present-day Iraq, gave birth to some of the worlds first civilizations. In this early flowering of civilization, many religious myths abounded, seeking to explain what was then unexplainable. From this context comes the oldest complete literary work we have, the age of which we are certain, dating back at least 7, years.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a lengthy narrative of heroic mythology that incorporates many of the religious myths of Mesopotamia, and it is the earliest complete literary work that has survived.
Many of the stories in that epic were eventually incorporated into the book of Genesis. Borrowed from the Epic of Gilgamesh are stories of the creation of man in a wondrous garden, the introduction of evil into a naive world, and the story of a great flood brought on by the wickedness of man, that flooded the whole world.
In this Mesopotamian basin civilization, known to us today as the Chaldean Empire, tribal alliances that predated the amalgamation into a single empire, continued to exist and flourish.
Many were allied to the palace, many opposed, all retained elements of their pre-conquest cultures. The patriarchs first appear in our story with the journey of one of them, Abraham, who, the story tells us, led members of his tribe from the city of Ur, west towards the Mediterranean, to the "promised land" of Canaan, sometime between the 19th and 18th centuries B.
Or so the story goes. The problem is that we don't really have any good archeaological evidence to support the Abraham story, and there is much archaeological evidence to contradict it.
The land where Abraham supposedly settled, the southern highlands of Palestine from Jerusalem south the the Valley of Beersheba is very sparse in archaeological evidence from this period. It is clear from the archaeological record that its population was extremely sparse - no more than a few hundred people in the entire region, and the sole occupants of the area during this time were nomadic pastoralists, much like the Bedouin of the region today.
We know from clear archaeological evidence that the peoples known as the Phillistines never even entered the region until the 12th century B. It couldn't have been the capital of the regional king of a people who didn't yet exist! This isn't the only problem with the account of the Age of the Patriarchs, either.
There's the problem of the camels.Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich Some of the wealthiest people in America—in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond—are getting ready for the crackup of civilization. The table below presents an abbreviated geologic time scale, with times and events germane to this essay.
Please refer to a complete geologic time scale when this one seems inadequate. Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers Introduction and background Since its debut in , Robert Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers has been one of the most popular -- and controversial -- works of science fiction ever published.
Written in a few weeks as a response to a proposed nuclear testing moratorium and other issues, it has been . Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the most influential thinkers during the Enlightenment in eighteenth century Europe. His first major philosophical work, A Discourse on the Sciences and Arts, was the winning response to an essay contest conducted by the Academy of Dijon in In this work.
Paul Kingsnorth is a writer and poet living in Cumbria, England. He is the author of several books, including the poetry collection Kidland and his fictional debut The Wake, winner of the Gordon Burn Prize and the Bookseller Book of the Year Award.
Kingsnorth is the cofounder and director of the Dark Mountain Project, a network of writers, artists, and thinkers. This post was published last year at this time and since my students are preparing essays on the subject I thought I might offer it once again.
Today my Civil War classes finished watching the movie Glory, which is still my all-time favorite Civil War movie. Students enjoy the movie in part because.