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 The book opens with an abridged world history leading up to the New Testament, including Greek and other historical references.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.