Sheler, long time religion reporter for U.S.. News and World Report, has reworked many previously published essays into a six-part primer on today’s Bible battles. In one section, we learn just why the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered by a trio of Bedouins in 1947, have captured the attention of so many biblical scholars and paleographers. Elsewhere, Sheler evaluates archeological arguments about the Exodus form Egypt and Scripture’s portrait of Israel’s ancient monarchy. Sheler also limns, perhaps too briefly, the history of the search for the historical Jesus, walking us from the Reformation through the development of German higher criticism to today’s Jesus Seminar. Though Sheler doesn—t take the time for a proper introduction to Albert Schweitzer, he does describe in detail some of the detectives who lead today’s search for the historical Jesus: Robert Funk, Marcus Borg, and N. T. Wright (Sheler curiously omitted Luke Timothy Johnson, a critic of the Jesus Seminar who surely deserved a paragraph or two in his roll call). Most illuminating is Sheler’s overview of the Bible Code project—the assertions, articulated by Michael Drosnin and others, that the letters of Scripture comprise an elaborate code, cracked by computers, that predicted Rabin’s assassination and Clinton’s 1992 election, and foretell earthquakes and other disasters that will occur early in the new century. Sheler, who declares his Protestant commitments at the outset of the book, concludes that the Bible is fairly reliable: Scripture is —affirmed by the weight of evidence and the strength of early traditions— relation to the formation of the canon,— archaeological finds, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the quest for the historical Jesus, and the —fleeting controversies over the so-called Bible code.— One wishes for a little more skepticism. Sheler’s book should not be the only map you use to navigate contemporary biblical debates, but it will be useful in getting you headed on the right road.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-067541-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?



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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet