This readable discussion on sin, faith, and salvation offers an inventive, informed take on Eden and the nature of faith.

Who Told You That You Were Naked?


This exegetical work scrutinizes what happened in the Garden of Eden to better clarify the concepts of sin and redemption.

Like many Christians, debut author Combs—a retired Presbyterian minister—came to understand sin, salvation, and faith through the New Testament. With this book, he focuses on these concepts as introduced in the Old Testament and the Garden of Eden episode so as to “delve into the events through which sin and death entered the world.” Combs begins by considering the joys of Eden, the circumstances that forced Adam and Eve out of it, and the results of leaving Eden, including the murder of Abel by Cain. He explores the nature of faith, the difference between faith and works, challenges to faith, and what it truly means to follow Christ. He also considers the true nature of sin, which he argues should be seen as relational, not as something that lies in wait to trip us up; for example, it wasn’t lurking Satan but Cain’s “perception of his relationship with his brother” that drove him to murder. Adam and Eve’s shame for their nakedness didn’t derive from disobedience, a common interpretation. What the apple truly disclosed, according to the author, was an inner conviction of not measuring up, especially to God. Combs cautions readers to remember difficulties of translation but doesn’t otherwise historicize Eden or interpret it metaphorically as some writers have done (for example, by seeing it as a story of the agricultural revolution, which introduced social inequality). Throughout, Combs lightens his discussion with vivid retellings of biblical events and stories of personal encounters with the divine, the straightforward accounting of which may startle some. Believers are likely to find fresh ways to understand well-known texts, while readers who disagree may not be persuaded but can engage fruitfully with Combs’ carefully made points, supported through biblical and scholarly references, study questions, and endnotes.

This readable discussion on sin, faith, and salvation offers an inventive, informed take on Eden and the nature of faith.

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-942587-68-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Carpenter's Son Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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