A confident, sure-footed reading of the New Testament that challenges believers.


Searching for the Truth in the New Testament

An incisive, unorthodox investigation of Scripture.

Valset’s thorough reading of the New Testament is worthy of any academic standard. In his sprawling commentary, he explores a wide variety of scriptural passages with great acuity. The book opens with an abridged world history leading up to the New Testament, including Greek and other historical references. The conclusions Valset reaches, however, are not expected ones. Indeed, he sets out to question, if not disprove, many of Christianity’s most basic assumptions regarding the New Testament. Some of his findings may seem mundane, such as arguing that there is no scriptural substantiation that Jesus’ feet were nailed during the Crucifixion. But he goes on to tackle far heavier subjects. For instance, Valset takes issue with the divine attributes assigned to the Holy Spirit, pointing out that the Spirit was not a favorite topic of the early Gospel authors and that it was Paul who made the Spirit an important point of theology. Again and again, Valset alludes to inconsistencies in accounts by the writers of the New Testament, at one point shouting in exasperation: “How disheartening it is to encounter clashing versions of the inerrant word of God at every turn! Did any of the authors of the Christian canonical books ever care to write only what he knew was absolutely the truth?” In the end, Valset concludes that Jesus was merely a man, misled by his religious zeal into tempting fate. “In his last minutes of lucidity,” Valset writes, “Jesus must have been painfully aware that his entire life had been wasted pursuing a hopeless dream.” The author comes to the same conclusions as many other secular scholars over the past two centuries, though he does so in a manner more focused on literary criticism than most. To a Christian audience, Valset’s pharisaical work may raise eyebrows, while his unwavering attack upon language leaves no room within the text for literary license or even personality.

A confident, sure-footed reading of the New Testament that challenges believers.

Pub Date: May 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4502-8930-6

Page Count: 704

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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