A fringe and fanciful view of the creation of the Christian faith.

CREATING CHRISTIANITY

A WEAPON OF ANCIENT ROME

A debut alternative history book explores the origins of Christianity.

Davis begins by offering the rare argument that “the Jesus described in the Gospels” did not exist. In fact, the author asserts, Christianity was a fabrication that postdated the Roman-Jewish wars of the first century. Working off the conclusions of other writers, such as Joseph Atwill, Davis weaves a detailed yet speculative explanation for how the New Testament and the Christian faith came into existence. He points to Arrius Piso, a contemporary and rival of Nero, as the originating genius behind the New Testament scheme. According to the author, Piso and his closest friends and family believed that by creating a new, peace-centered religion out of Jewish concepts, Rome could effectively counter Jewish rebellion across the empire. Beyond this, the new faith could serve as a Roman-centered religion and be used as a source of power for the Piso family and the empire itself. In this ambitious book, Davis attempts to prove his theory by using “the parallels discovered by independent scholar Joseph Atwill” between the New Testament and the works of Flavius Josephus (who the author maintains was the pen name for Piso). For instance, Davis argues that Jesus’ statement “I will make you fishers of men” is actually about a ship battle against the Jews in which many men were shot at or run down while trying not to drown. In addition, the story of the good Samaritan is about an attack on a Roman Legion by Jewish rebels, causing the soldiers to recuperate in Samaria. But these and many other such “parallels” are far from self-evident. Using the new religion to take the reins of power, Piso became St. Peter, the first pope; Pliny the Younger succeeded him as St. Linus, the second pope; and so on, the author claims. He tells readers: “Piso chose the name ‘Peter’ as his alias name of the founder of the Christian religion, because he was the ‘father’ (‘pater’) of the Christian religion.” Davis is painstaking in his research and provides ample textual evidence. Nevertheless, his highly unusual conclusions will likely find a skeptical reception from many believers and scholars.

A fringe and fanciful view of the creation of the Christian faith.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78926-557-6

Page Count: 327

Publisher: Independent Publishing Network

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2019

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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