The Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey (Living in Sin?, etc.—not reviewed), offers a controversial view of the key element in Christianity—the resurrection of Jesus. Spong suggests that Christians have forgotten that the New Testament frequently makes use of Midrash, a genre in which different biblical motifs are interwoven in order to speak of things that transcend human categories. Thus the story of Joshua's parting of the sea means that he was a second Moses, and the opening of the heavens at Jesus' baptism tells us that Jesus is the true Moses. Spong argues that since Jesus' resurrection is divine, it is beyond the realm of history, and the stories surrounding it are Midrash. The question we need to ask, then, is not whether these stories are literally true, but what experience they describe. For Spong, the transformation of the disciples is evidence that something did take place, and in the course of several chapters he attempts to get near their experience by decoding the language of Midrash. His conclusion is that no one knows what happened to the body of Jesus; there was no empty tomb, no angels, no appearances. Instead, Peter later saw Jesus—``in the realm of God''—in a way that Spong says was real but not objective. Although Spong considers his approach to the texts the only viable one today, many may find his view more difficult to accept than the traditional one and will want to question his basic premise—that modern people cannot, with integrity, believe in angels and the supernatural. He bases his own position, furthermore, on probabilities and literary criticism; yet he does not hesitate to make absolute statements such as ``Jesus could not have said, I am the bread of life.'' A stimulating study, although the author has hardly succeeded in his desire to avoid a ``pale subjectivity.''

Pub Date: March 21, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-067546-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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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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