Archives For: Book Club

Book Club: A Guide To Living

Jul 22 2014 @ 1:19pm

The stroke of genius in Sarah Bakewell’s book about Montaigne is that she framed his biography as a guide to life. You could justify this as a way to appeal to a distracted 21st Century audience otherwise highly unlikely to read about a sixteenth century French essayist, but she makes that entirely unnecessary. What she shows is why Nietzsche had such a fondness for the diminutive and inquisitive skeptic: everything he wrote was really about his own life, and how best to live it, and he does it all with such brio and detail and humanity that you cannot help but be encouraged to follow his lead. He proves nothing that he doesn’t simultaneously subvert a little; he makes no over-arching argument montaigne.jpgabout the way humans must live; he has no logician’s architecture or religious doctrine. He slips past all those familiar means of telling other people what’s good for them, and simply explains what has worked for him and others and leaves the reader empowered to forge her own future – or, rather (for this is Montaigne), her own present.

It’s a philosophy rooted in the most familiar form of empiricism. It is resolutely down to earth. You can see its eccentric power by considering the alternative ways of doing what Montaigne was doing. Think of contemporary self-help books – and all the fake certainty and rigid formulae they contain. Or think of a hideous idea like “the purpose-driven life” in which everything must be forced into the box of divine guidance in order to really live at all. Think of the stringency of Christian disciplines – say, the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola – and marvel at how Montaigne offers an entirely different and less compelling way to live. Think of the rigidity of Muslim practice and notice how much lee-way Montaigne gives to sin. This is a non-philosophical philosophy. It is a theory of practical life as told through one man’s random and yet not-so-random reflections on his time on earth. And it is shot through with doubt. Even the maxims that Montaigne embraces for living are edged with those critical elements of Montaigne’s thought that say “as far as I know” or “it seems to me” or “maybe I’m wrong”. And of course it begs the question that Pascal posed: how can skepticism not be skeptical about itself? Is it, in fact, a self-refuting way of being?

Logically, of course it refutes itself. And you can easily torment yourself with that fact. When I first tried to grapple with philosophy, the need to force every text I read into the rubric of “is this the truth about the world?” dominated everything. And in retrospect, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you do not have a desire to figure out the truth about the whole, you’ll never start the philosophical project at all. And you can find in philosophy any number of clues about how to live; you can even construct them into an ideology that explains all of human life how-to-live-sdand society – like Marxism or free market fundamentalism or a Nietzschean will to power. But as each totalist system broke down upon my further inspection, I found myself returning to Montaigne and the tradition of skepticism he represents (and that reached one of its modern high points in the thought of Michael Oakeshott). Maybe we need to start with what little we actually do know – through experience, narrative, anecdote and conversation.

And here’s what we do know. We are fallible beings; we have nothing but provisional knowledge; and we will die. And this is enough. This does not mean we should give up inquiring or seeking to understand. Skepticism is not nihilism. It doesn’t posit that there is no truth; it merely notes that if truth exists, it is inherently beyond our ultimate grasp. And accepting those limits is the first step toward sanity, toward getting on with life. This is what I mean by conservatism. You can see why it has scarcely any resemblance to the fanatics, ideologues and reactionaries who call themselves “conservative” in America today.

But what Bakewell helped me see better is that Montaigne’s Stoic disposition really was influenced by a couple of epiphanies. The first was the loss of his dear friend, Etienne de la Boétie. The second was his own near-death experience in a riding accident. What he’s grappling with in both cases is loss. And what he seeks to do with his friendship is to understand what he lost more completely, which makes his essay “On Friendship” the greatest treatment of that theme ever penned. But his near-death experience – which he subsequently wrote down with eerily modern skills of careful observation – could be seen as the window onto his entire body of work. He works back from this reality – our inescapable finitude – to construct a deeper and more humane understanding of what life is for. By seeing the limits, he seems to say, we actually live more vividly and well and can die at peace with the world.

If I were to single out one theme of Montaigne’s work that has stuck with me, it would be this staringbookclub-beagle-tr-2 of death in the face, early and often, and never flinching. It is what our culture refuses to do much of the time, thereby disempowering us in the face of our human challenges. I was lucky in some ways – and obviously highly unlucky in others – that I experienced something like this early in my life as well: the prospect of my own imminent death and the loss of one of my closest friends and soulmates to AIDS. There was Scripture to salve it all; there was friendship to shoulder it all; there was hope to sustain it all. But in the end, I found myself returning to Montaigne’s solid sanity, his puzzlement and joy at life’s burdens and pleasures, his self-obsession that never somehow managed to become narcissism.

Is this enough? Or is it rather a capitulation to relativism, a manifesto for political quietism, a worldview that treats injustice as something to be abhorred but not constantly fought against? This might be seen as the core progressive objection to the way of Montaigne. Or is his sensibility in an age of religious terror and violence and fanaticism the only ultimate solution we have?

Email your thoughts to bookclub@andrewsullivan.com. And let the conversation begin.

On Monday I’m planning to start the discussion over Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, so buy the book here if you’d like to join in. My intro to the book selection is here. A reader writes:

Great book recommendation, but I’m pretty pissed at the number of Game Of Thrones 513f2INPtgLspoilers that Bakewell crams in her work. Henri II is killed in a jousting tournament when his visor is knocked off and a splinter is lodged in his brain? Then his adolescent son takes over under the domineering regency of Cersei – I mean Catherine de Medici? Just replace “Huguenots” with “White Walkers” and I think I know how George RR Martin will end Song of Ice and Fire.

Seriously, this small passage in page 70 of my copy of How To Live was a great reminder that the Middle Ages were more brutal and hostile than even our modern imaginations. Actual history beats the hell out of fantasy.

Another:

I’m a subscriber to Dish, and enjoy the quality of its thought and breadth of exposure to interesting issues. For the second time now, I’ve downloaded a book you’ve recommended (just bought How to Live and just finished On Looking). But when I click on a link to give you credit for the purchase, it only takes me to the Kindle edition. I prefer Apple iBooks, to be read on my iPad. (Yes, I’ve drunk thebookclub-beagle-tr iKoolAid.) So I get out of Amazon, go to Apple, and buy the book there, but then you don’t get any credit, or even the knowledge that people are buying stuff you recommend. You might consider additional links to those of us who prefer a different online format.

The iBooks link is here. To help you find the book at a public library, go here. But this link to Amazon is the only way to support the Dish with some affiliate revenue (especially if you purchase other things on your shopping list during that web session). It’s pennies on the dollar, but those pennies add up for a small independent company.

Many readers are getting psyched about our latest Book Club selection, Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. My full intro to the book selection is here. Buy the book through this link to support the Dish. One reader:

Just a note to say that I am delighted that your third book club discussion will be bookclub-beagle-trabout Montaigne. If you haven’t read it, Mark Lillia’s very positive review of Bakewell is worth checking out. She misses Montaigne’s implied critique of Christianity, he argues. And M’s worldview leaves no space for transcendence, or our inescapable attraction to it.

To me, Montaigne cures us of that desire, though only temporarily. In that sense he is a proto-liberal: a skeptic, of course, and a thinker who put stability in politics before truth. I’ve been a lurker until now, but I look forward to a discussion about Montaigne on the Dish. How the ethos Montaigne recommends is challenged today by religion and by unworldly politics would be a great focus. And also the parallels and differences between The Essays and blogging.

That’s exactly why I chose this. It’s not just about life; it’s about politics, ideology, and fanaticism. Montaigne’s disposition is what we lack so much today – and need to reclaim. Another reader exclaims:

Woo Hoo! Montaigne next!

Why did I pick up How To Live last year at my public library? Probably because I saw it mentioned on the Dish or on Maria 513f2INPtgLPopova’s website. I renewed it several times so I could take it with me on vacation … to France. I greatly enjoyed the format, mixing Montaigne’s biography with Sarah Bakewell’s commentary. And I learned so much about Montaigne’s life, his essays and 16th century French history to boot.

I live in the USA, but I am originally from the Bordeaux area of France, and I go home pretty much every year to visit family. So last summer, my one objective was to visit Montaigne’s estate, as it is less than an hour’s drive from my parents’ house. It felt like a pilgrimage. Walking up the stairs of the tower, standing in Montaigne’s library, looking up to decipher the inscriptions on the ceiling. Better than a trip to Lourdes!

I also used several sections of How To Live when I taught a survey of French literature to my Advanced French class this past school year. And the book is once again on my coffee table, so I can reread it this summer (along with my digital copy of Les Essais). So a big thank you (or should I say “mille mercis”!) to you, Andrew and the Dish, for introducing me to this wonderful book and for making me want to rediscover Montaigne’s essays. I am looking forward to reading what other book club participants will think about it.

Another nerds out even more:

You recommend the Frame translation of the essays, and I understand that translation is widely regarded as the most faithful in English. But I wonder if you’re aware that the New York Review of Books just a few months ago published selections from the 1603 Florio translation.

Read On

Question Of The Day

Jul 3 2014 @ 1:32pm

A reader asks:

What are you picking for Book Club #3? I’m super antsy … and July is here. Tell! Tell us! Tell us all! Or just respond so I may quietly read while everyone else is blowing shit up over the weekend.

Heh. Well, yes, it is July, and a major political book did not seem like the best way for me to read on the beach this summer. So I picked a book I’ve long wanted to read but never got around to – about an author who remains among my favorite non-fiction masters of all time and blogger avant la lettre: Montaigne.

The book is How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, by Sarah Bakewell.

It’s an innovative approach to biography – it’s really a series of meditations, based on Montaigne’s life and work, on some of life’s big questions. The “answers” to How To Live? come in many Montaigne-inspired recommendations: Survive Love and Loss; Question Everything; Live Temperately; Do A Good Job, But Not Too Good A Job; Give Up Control; among many others. It has an Amazon rating of 4.4 out of 5, and won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for biography.

Some reviews:

“Ms. Bakewell’s new book, How to Live, is a biography, but in the form of a delightful conversation across the centuries.” —The New York Times
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“So artful is Bakewell’s account of [Montaigne] that even skeptical readers may well come to share her admiration.” —New York Times Book Review

“Extraordinary…a miracle of complex, revelatory organization, for as Bakewell moves along she provides a brilliant demonstration of the alchemy of historical viewpoint.” —Boston Globe

“Well, How to Live is a superb book, original, engaging, thorough, ambitious, and wise.” —Nick Hornby, in the November/December 2010 issue of The Believer

“In How to Live, an affectionate introduction to the author, Bakewell argues that, far from being a dusty old philosopher, Montaigne has never been more relevant—a 16th-century blogger, as she would have it—and so must be read, quite simply, ‘in order to live’…Bakewell is a wry and intelligent guide.” —The Daily Beast

I also have an ulterior motive. For me, Montaigne’s essays – first read in college – have long been a source of enthusiasm and inspiration. His constant curiosity, his openness to new ideas, his willingness to change his mind, his capacity for growth and humor, his staggering honesty, his wit and humaneness: all helped create and nurture the emergence of the modern individual in the West. Along with Shakespeare, he saw humanity in his day in its entirety, and, like Shakespeare, was somehow able to regard it with the perspective of the ages. As literature, he also pioneered the essay as a form, and the personal voice in writing in ways not seen since Augustine. If there were one powerful influence behind my approach to blogging, it would be Montaigne.

bookclub-beagle-trSo dig in – and perhaps be inspired to go to the source material as well, as long as you get Donald Frame’s still-peerless translation. Sarah has agreed to join us in a few weeks to carry on the conversation. So let’s use this book to think about that simple question: how to live? It’s an area so ripe for reader anecdotes and stories and personal journeys that it seemed perfect for a summer discussion. Buy it here – and help give the Dish some affiliate income, and get yourself a deck-chair or a hammock.

And Happy Fourth!

Book Club: Sensing Too Much, Ctd

Jun 19 2014 @ 10:00am

A reader responds to the email from the parent of two sons with sensory processing disorder:

horowitz-onlookingAs a well-functioning but diagnosed older person on the autism spectrum, taking a walk is an annoying and frustrating event. I friggin’ notice everything. I have to force myself not to read every word in every ad, identify the make and model of every car I pass by, peek around to see what that sound was – even though I know it was just a car door closing or a skateboarder in the distance. It doesn’t ever, ever stop.

That said, taking these walks with Alexandra Horowitz and her guests in On Looking got me out of my head. Getting out of my own head doesn’t happen enough, even when reading insightful books. Now, when I walk, I remember some of the wisdom of her experts’ knowledge and I look for those things. I think, What am I smelling? I look at the annoying signs and instead of repeating the words over and over until I see another annoying sign, I look at the typeface. I force myself to focus. On building materials, on rocks, on asphalt even.

In some small sense, I’ve become a better autistic. Or at least a calmer walker.

Maria Popova, who is hosting the Book Club, responds to the reader:

I love this. It reminds me of a favorite passage from the book:

Right now, you are missing the vast majority of what is happening around you. You are missing the events unfolding in your body, in the distance, and right in front of you. By marshaling your attention to these words, helpfully framed in a distinct border of white, you are ignoring an unthinkably large amount of orwell-2information that continues to bombard all of your senses: the hum of the fluorescent lights, the ambient noise in a large room, the places your chair presses against your legs or back, your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, the tension you are holding in your shoulders or jaw, the map of the cool and warm places on your body, the constant hum of traffic or a distant lawn-mower, the blurred view of your own shoulders and torso in your peripheral vision, a chirp of a bug or whine of a kitchen appliance.

The challenge this reader articulates, and a challenge for many on the autism spectrum, is that of being unable to turn off precisely those myriad external stimuli that the average person automatically misses. But what’s interesting is that over the past decade, growing bodies of research have shed light on the autistic mind as not lesser but different.

Perhaps one of its great advantages, and a key point of difference, is exactly this wide lens of attention coupled with narrow focus on each of the many things attended to – a fusion of what’s an either-or proposition for the nonautistic person. At its most acute, this advantage can manifest as anything from intricately detailed visual lists of everyday objects to mathematical genius. Autism advocate and pioneering animal behaviorist Temple Grandin has spoken about this beautifully in her TED talk and her introduction to the book Drawing Autism.

For the rest of us, though, missing “the vast majority of what is happening” is undoubtedly a survival strategy. I tried to imagine, biking through the city today, what it would be like if I paid attention to everything simultaneously – listened to every bird and every siren and every rushing executive yelling on her cell phone, looked at every storefront and every redhead and every fleeting reflection in a car window. I’d crash instantly – both literally and figuratively.

Follow the whole Book Club discussion here. Maria and Alexandra just recorded a short conversation over various aspects of On Looking, so stay tuned.

Book Club: Looking With New Eyes

Jun 12 2014 @ 2:17pm

What have you discovered in your daily routine since reading On Looking, our second Book Club selection? Our host, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, posed that question to Dish readers earlier this week:

Perhaps the greatest gift of a book club is that we get to share our private realities around a common point of interest – the book – and in the process enrich the collective experience. With that in mind, what is one facet of your day or aspect of your usual daily routine – your apartment, your commute, your dog walk route – that On Looking helped you see with new eyes?

Let us know by emailing bookclub@andrewsullivan.com and we’ll post the most interesting observations and photos. Buy the book here (or here for your Kindle) if you haven’t already. Karen Carlson was looking for “a quick, light, purely fun read” when she picked up the book last summer:

And it was a fun read, very much so – but it also sent me scurrying to google horowitz-onlooking Clochan na bhFomharach, a volcanic formation in Northern Ireland consisting of thousands of columns of basalt pushed out of the ground. And that’s just in a footnote. … “Minerals and Biomass,” her walk with geologist Sidney Horenstein of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, is when I got curious about volcanic leftovers in Northern Ireland. …

What surprised me most was how enchanted I was by the second chapter: “Muchness,” guided by the expert eyes of Horowitz’ 19-month-old son. I’m fairly immune to the charms of children, but this was engaging and informative. Horowitz is trained in cognitive science and teaches animal behavior at Barnard, and here she weaves nuggets from developmental psychology in to explain her son’s adoption of a standpipe as a pet, and his reaction to shadows.

She adds, “This book was just the break I wanted: an almanac of captivating anecdotes which will stick with me – and who knows, maybe one day I’ll take a walk, myself.” That’s what we’re hoping some readers will do. And that’s just what Ambre Nicolson, also inspired by “Muchness,” decided to do with her own toddler. An excerpt from their sojourn around Cape Town:

14h00: “Beep beep!”

My son, like Alexandra’s, is head over heels for any form of wheeled transport. Within the first 30m of our journey he has pointed out a red bus, several taxis, a bicycle and a shiny bookclub-beagle-trblack motorbike. Later in our journey he will be stopped, spellbound for almost 10 minutes, by the sight of a reversing garbage truck. While my son loves cars, it has been shown that spending too much time in one leaves kids without a healthy sense of connection to place. American urban researcher Bruce Appleyard has shown that kids who have a “windshield perspective” are less able to accurately draw a map of where they live, whereas kids who walked or biked could produce accurate and detailed maps of their communities.

Read On

Book Club: Sensing Too Much

Jun 9 2014 @ 8:52pm

A reader emailed prior to Maria’s intro today:

Afternoon! I am finding On Looking fascinating in so many ways! Two of my children werehorowitz-onlooking diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (along with Aspergers) and it is difficult for them not to notice everything. Hypersensitive to noise means they hear things that most of us have learned to filter out – same goes for light, touch, smell and taste. Like most people with SPD, their diagnosis came after years of extremely picky eating, complaints about scratchy clothing seams and tags and silky linings in coats, refusing to see movies at the theater and, in our case, having one of them bolt and get lost at an amusement park when he sensed the fireworks were about to start (even though we were on our way out of the park).

Living with my boys means that the rest of us are forced to take note of what we hadn’t. Often we realize just how much we are missing with our so-called properly functioning sensory system. True, they often find themselves with what can only be described as a traffic jam of sensory input in their brains (and that often leads to scenes that are not pretty), but they also notice first when the spring peeper frogs are awake, that the water system needs salt, that Daddy is home (in a Prius), and that the night-light bulbs are about to burn out.

bookclub-beagle-trWe prefer the word “challenge” rather than “disorder” when talking about their Aspergers and sensory issues because while it can be overwhelming at times and even debilitating, it is who they are. And we kid that they can use their powers for good rather than evil! Their powers of sensory observation sometimes astound and add layers to the ordinary that would otherwise have been totally missed. Coupled with what I have read so far in On Looking, I can’t see any journey being ordinary again.

The Dish has covered sensory processing disorders before – here and here. By the way, a reminder of Maria’s appeal to readers earlier today:

Perhaps the greatest gift of a book club is that we get to share our private realities around a common point of interest – the book – and in the process enrich the collective experience. With that in mind, what is one facet of your day or aspect of your usual daily routine – your apartment, your commute, your dog walk route – that On Looking helped you see with new eyes?

Email your personal observations – and photos when relevant – to bookclub@andrewsullivan.com and we’ll pick the most interesting ones to post. And we’ll be discussing On Looking for up to the whole month of June, so you still have plenty of time to buy the book and join the conversation.

Maria Popova, the host of our second Book Club, starts the discussion by posing a challenge to readers:

“Reality,” Philip K. Dick wrote, “is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go horowitz-onlookingaway.” There are two reasons I chose Alexandra Horowitz’s On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes for the Dish book club. Besides being a masterwork of storytelling bridging science and everyday life, it also reminds us – subtly, elegantly, yet unequivocally – that what we call “reality” is a highly edited picture of the world, projected through the lens of our beliefs, our biases, our baggage, and our experientially conditioned selective attention. It’s a point especially poignant today as we go through our lives worshiping at the altar of productivity, often at the expense of presence. After all, as Annie Dillard put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And under the modern condition, we spend the overwhelming bulk of them in the trance of our routines, showing up for our daily lives but being, in a rather significant way, absent from them – the very tendency against which Alan Watts admonished half a century ago when he began popularizing Eastern philosophy in the West.

What Horowitz does is peel back precisely those cognitive curtains that obscure from view the richness of our everyday reality. When I first wrote about On Looking last fall, I knew it was the kind of book that stays with you for a lifetime, but this awareness was rooted mostly in intellectual appreciation. I didn’t anticipate just how profoundly those eleven perspectives bookclub-beagle-trwould change the way I experience and inhabit my day-to-day life, from the parallel-universe ecosystem of wildlife in my tiny backyard to the remarkable invisible choreography of swiftly navigating a crowded New York City sidewalk while a hundred strangers do just the same.

Perhaps the greatest gift of a book club is that we get to share our private realities around a common point of interest – the book – and in the process enrich the collective experience. With that in mind, what is one facet of your day or aspect of your usual daily routine – your apartment, your commute, your dog walk route – that On Looking helped you see with new eyes?

Email your personal observations – and photos when relevant – to bookclub@andrewsullivan.com and we’ll pick the most interesting ones to post. And we’ll be discussing On Looking for up to the whole month of June, so you still have plenty of time to buy the book and join the conversation. Also, if you haven’t already, check out Maria’s inimitable blog, Brain Pickings, and subscribe to it here if you like what you read.

Below is the second installment of Ehrman’s responses to Dish reader questions (the first part is here):

What do you make of the evangelical response to your book, How God Became Jesus?

For a somewhat fuller response, see my blog post. Here I can say that the five evangelical Christians who responded are all good scholars. The purpose of their book was to engage my historical claims at a number of points. Some of the responses I found to be interesting. I ehrman_bart_12_020didn’t actually find any of them convincing, and on the whole I have to say that I was disappointed by the book. What I had hoped was that the book would provide a different historical narrative from the one that I laid out in How Jesus Became God. The respondents regularly accuse me of engaging in “bad” history, but they don’t themselves engage in any historical reconstruction at all. So how is one supposed to compare their views with mine?

The book really is little more than an attack on this point or the other in my discussion. I would love to see how they can imagine that their thesis, that God became Jesus, can be established on historical grounds, rather than theological or religious grounds . My view is that it is impossible for historians to demonstrate what God has done: that’s the province of theologians. If what they want to do is present a theological perspective that differs from my historical one, I have absolutely no problem at all with that. What I object to is their decision to embrace a theological perspective and claim that it is history.

What if anything might change your mind and cause you to again become a believer?

Hmmm … Good question!

Read On

As the first Dish book club draws to a close, the author of How Jesus Became God was gracious enough to answer your questions about his book. Below is the first installment of his responses:

Has changing your mind about a major question, like when Christians believed Jesus to be divine, caused you to rethink any of your other positions about the historical Jesus or early Christianity?

My views of the historical Jesus have not changed at all. Ever since graduate school I have thought that Albert Schweitzer was basically right (though wrong in the details) in understanding Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic prophet who anticipated that God was soon going to intervene in history in order to overthrow the forces of evil and bring in a good how-jesus-became-godkingdom on earth. That continues to be the most widely held view among critical scholars in Europe and North America. Understanding that Jesus was this kind of teacher/preacher is important for my book, since Jesus almost certainly did not teach his disciples that he was God, but that God’s kingdom was soon to arrive and they needed to prepare for it.

Where my views have changed involves the key question of what Jesus’ followers thought about him after his death. The view I held for many years was that the earliest Christians did not think of Jesus as truly God until late in the first century, when the Gospel of John portrays him as declaring himself to be divine. In doing my research for How Jesus Became God, I became convinced that this was absolutely wrong. The followers of Jesus declared that Jesus was God as soon as they came to believe that he had been raised from the dead. Already at that point they maintained that God had made him a divine being. And that was the beginning of Christology.

Eventually some Christians came to think that it was not at his resurrection that he had been made God, but at his baptism; some came to think that it was earlier, at his conception; and some then came to think that he had been a pre-existent divine being before coming into the world. But it all started not in later decades, but at the very beginning, in the belief that he had been raised from the dead.

You firmly put Jesus in his context as first century Jewish apocalyptic preacher, but are there any ways in which he was different from the other would-be messiahs most of us have never heard of?

Yes indeed! Jesus was certainly different from other ones, for no other reason than that all of us is different from everyone else. So he must, virtually by definition, have been different. His bookclub-beagle-troverarching message was not radically different from the one proclaimed by others (e.g., John the Baptist). But what made him especially different in my judgment is two things. First, he taught that he would be the king of the kingdom that was soon to come (John the Baptist never said any such thing about himself) and that those who followed his specific teachings would be the ones who would enter that kingdom. And second, unlike every other alleged messiah from antiquity, Jesus alone was thought by his disciples to have been raised from the dead. That changed everything, as I try to show in my book.

If the Gospels are as unreliable and contradictory as you make them out to be, why trust any parts of them for information about the historical Jesus?

Read On