More provocative than exacting, this re-evaluation of religious dogma will appeal to anyone who wants an intellectually...



Allsop’s theological treatise radically re-examines the Bible as a source of revelation and moral instruction, while reassessing the relationship it prescribes between God and man.

Writing in response to his crisis of faith, Allsop scours the Bible for a universally applicable doctrine and comes up empty. Instead, he finds a pastiche of apocryphal stories, irresolvable contradictions and some genuinely edifying moral lessons that only make sense when considered in their context. He adumbrates an interpretive approach that views biblical writing as the work of fallible human beings rather than the divinely inspired word of God. This leads to fundamental reconsiderations of basic church teachings like the divinity and resurrection of Christ, the intelligibility of the Apostles’ Creed, the nature of petitionary prayer and the promise of personal immortality. The author’s view that God refrains from directly intervening in human affairs functions as the crux of his attempt to wrestle biblical principles from their institutional misinterpretations. Allsop’s writing is admirably lucid, even breezy, for such a weighty topic. However, his tone sometimes becomes overly strident, frequently proclaiming too confidently what is “obvious to any reasonably careful reader.” Also, he has a tendency to present arguments as “personal reflections” rather than occasions for scholarly exegesis. Given that the nature of his topic depends on close textual analysis, the author should more frequently and rigorously engage the massive body of scholarship that presents alternatives to his often idiosyncratic readings. Finally, episodic excursions into political commentary about topics such as terrorism and environmental disaster are more distracting than edifying, not to mention dyspeptic—he refers to the “unfolding story of the human race” as a “black comedy.” Still, the author makes a moving argument for taking the Bible seriously, since it expresses “moral principles that resonate with our deepest sense of what is right and promises that meet our deepest longings.”

More provocative than exacting, this re-evaluation of religious dogma will appeal to anyone who wants an intellectually light, accessible introduction to scripture-based skepticism.

Pub Date: June 30, 2006

ISBN: 978-1412029247

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2012

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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 20, 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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