This intriguing ancient text deserves a solid academic study by serious scholars. Unfortunately, this book is not it.

THE LOST GOSPEL

DECODING THE ANCIENT TEXT THAT REVEALS JESUS' MARRIAGE TO MARY THE MAGDALENE

Exploration of a long-forgotten text.

Filmmaker Jacobovici (co-author: The Jesus Discovery: The Resurrection Tomb that Reveals the Birth of Christianity, 2012, etc.) and researcher Wilson (Humanities and Religious Studies/York Univ.; How Jesus Became Christian, 2008, etc.) collaborate to popularize a little-known sixth-century text known as Joseph and Aseneth. The story, ostensibly about the Old Testament patriarch Joseph, was originally known to be written in Greek but now survives, in its oldest form, translated into Syriac. The authors dedicate a sizable portion of the book to a new English translation of the text, along with notes. They argue that the strange and anachronistic story is in fact a hidden Gnostic Gospel, which, when properly decoded, provides a wealth of detail about the life of Jesus and his wife, who the authors claim is Mary Magdalene. The authors argue that past interpreters ignored the early church’s trend toward typological analysis of the Old Testament, through which Christian motifs were located within the Hebrew Scriptures. Instead, they claim that Joseph and Aseneth should be read as a “disguised historical narrative.” The authors argue this “gospel” gives details of the personal life of Jesus: “It tells the story of how Jesus met his wife, how they married, and how they had children.” However, many readers will find Joseph and Aseneth allegorical at best, hopelessly mysterious at worst. It is only through what appears as speculation that Jacobovici and Wilson piece together a fantastical tale of love, intrigue and, of course, sex, around Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Wrapped in the modern trend to discount New Testament writings and push forward even the most tenuous Gnostic texts, the authors write that “[w]hat seemed like fantasy is actually history, and what seems like history turns out to be carefully edited spin.” Yet the authors’ subjective tone, dramatic language and willingness to stretch logic leave readers skeptical from the first page.

This intriguing ancient text deserves a solid academic study by serious scholars. Unfortunately, this book is not it.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60598-610-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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