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Well-argued, certain-to-be-controversial account of the Bible’s closing story.

A critical look at the New Testament book of Revelation.

Religion scholar Ehrman, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, continues a career devoted to confronting conventional readings of the Bible by turning to its closing book. The author argues that Revelation has been improperly read and interpreted in modern times and that the book was written by a committed yet misled Christian who did not understand the true Christ. Ehrman begins with a worthwhile overview of what Revelation is about and how it has been read and interpreted throughout the history of Christianity. He posits that Revelation was not a prophetic work aimed at explaining an event far in the future but had meaning and purpose directly aimed at the generation during which it was written. Ehrman hopes to look beyond the traditional end-times mentality to question its very view of Christ and his followers. “The difficulty with Revelation,” he writes, “is not that it predicts a future that never happened but that it presents a view of God that is deeply unsettling….Is it not disturbing that, in the end, the unstoppable justice of God triumphs over his mercy?” The author then goes on to examine how the Christ of Revelation differs markedly from the Christ of the Gospels. He notes that God is portrayed in the Gospels as having mercy and love, whereas in Revelation, God is cruel, vengeful, and propelled by justice devoid of mercy. “In my view,” he concludes, “the God of Revelation cannot be the true God.” All of this matters, Ehrman believes, precisely because Revelation has had far-reaching consequences on historical events. Christian sects have been built around it, popular views of how the world will end are based on it, and even foreign policy is influenced by it. Revelation is too significant to ignore and too important to be improperly read.

Well-argued, certain-to-be-controversial account of the Bible’s closing story.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9781982147990

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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