Revolutionary thesis of German papyrologist Thiede and (London) Times assistant editor d'Ancona that the Magdalen Papyrus fragments of St. Matthew's Gospel date from as early as 60 a.d. This would mean that this Gospel, and possibly the others, represent eyewitness accounts of the events they describe and not merely later traditions of Christian communities, as New Testament scholars have supposed for over a century. Three tiny scraps of papyrus have been kept in a remote part of the library of Magdalen College, Oxford, since shortly after their discovery in Egypt by the Reverend Charles B. Huleatt at Luxor in 1901. They had been dated to the end of the second century until Thiede chanced to examine them during a trip to Oxford in 1994. His findings have caused a sensation in Europe, and this book brings the controversy to the American public. The authors give a review of New Testament scholarship from Michaelis to the members of the Jesus Seminar, describe the intricate workings of the science of papyrology, and recount the life and travels of Huleatt, from his undergraduate days at Magdalen to his death with his family during the 1908 earthquake at Messina. Thiede bases his complex argument on an analysis of the Greek writing on the Magdalen fragments, comparing it with that of other manuscripts that can be dated with certainty, found at Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Qumran. Of special importance is the honorific use of abbreviations for the names of God and Jesus. The authors emphasize that papyrology, a science that has only developed since large numbers of ancient papyri have been unearthed in modern times, is more capable of verification than the kinds of literary and even partisan theories that are prevalent in New Testament scholarly circles. Intelligent and controversial collaboration of scholarship and journalism. (24 photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-385-48051-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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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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