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Charles O. Wilson RSS Feed (Saint Petersburg, Fl USA)
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The Evolution of Christs and Christianities
The Evolution of Christs and Christianities
by Jay Raskin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $28.99
17 used & new from $10.29

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jay Raskin's _Evolution of Christs and Christianities_, May 30, 2006
Bertrand Russell once stated that "Common sense leads to science and science shows that common sense is false."

Jay Raskin has taken apart a number of "common sense" ideas that have ruled the world of Biblical Scholarship for centuries. This book, extremely well written and extensively footnoted, traces a line of thought from a well documented alignment of critical analysis to an understanding of the gospels not seen before.

Dr. Raskin looks at Eusebius, commonly seen as the "writer of the early history of the church", and sees, not a writer of history, but a master forger, intent on guiding the future development of the Church as THE future development of THE Church.

This realization leads to a profound realization: "Once we see the unreality of Eusebian history, we lose many of our traditional sources for reconstructing Christian histories." (p. 20)

This leads to two striking parts to Dr. Raskin's book. The first is the use of the Internet as a resource for study. This book is an early user of this new tool and when the history of Biblical Scholarship is written, Dr. Raskin's book will be seen as an example of how this tool could be used to further scholarship.

The second part of Dr. Raskin's scholarship is the use of a tool to re-construct the stories of the gospels. It would be easy (and has been) to look ruefully to the sky when confronted by a falsified Eusebius and complain that we can never know now what the New Testament stories or the early history of the church are about.

It could be trivially stated that what follows is "A blending of science and art." This would certainly minimize what Dr. Raskin has done. The "art" of a master craftsman comes long after the craft has been mastered. Here is where Dr. Raskin has opened a new section for study.

Dr. Raskin looks at the gospel stories - and Josephus and others as well - as stories that have been rewritten to support the purposes seen in Eusebius. Using almost every methodologically sound technique around, Dr. Raskin reconstructs the stories, sometimes rewriting them, to arrive at what is both plausible and consistent.

In short, Dr. Raskin has given us a rubric, an objective guide using subjective judgements, to reconstructing the gospels and their true original intent.

For example (p. 384 - 385), Dr. Raskin looks at the "...days of John the Baptist" (a critical part of the thesis that Jesus is a construct) after the reconstruction of a particular first passage:

"The second passage here is more difficult to reconstruct. We may guess what has been changed by taking out the phrases that do not make sense if John is speaking:

"For the days of __________ until now, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force..."

Dr. Raskin continues the quote and invokes a section of Malichi. He then continues:

"We may take it that the original writer had this passage in mind when he was talking about violence and Elijah. We can now fill in the blanks:

"From the days of Moses till now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force..."

Obviously, this technique, like juggling scalpels, could lead to severe injury. Yet, this is where Dr. Raskin has seen where others before have not. He is a scholar of first rank and he has given his art in the form of first rate scholarship. His method is there to see. Those who disagree are more than able to use his own techniques in an attempt to undermine him. They do so at their own peril.

Dr. Raskin leads himself to several conclusions:

1. As earlier stated, Eusebius is history falsified for a particular end.

2. The role of Mary has been submerged in an attempt to wipe out the role of the female main character, this character being both involved in the story and to a major degree writing the story as a play.

3. The deconstruction of Mark and the other gospels discloses the origins of the stories about John being rewritten as the stories of Jesus, to the detriment of John.

4. The writers of the later material betray their surroundings to the detriment of the original ideas as Eusebius did.

I could list points for a much longer time - I even worry that I have compressed too much as it is - but Dr. Raskin's ideas are sound.

This book is not an attempt to give new meaning to old ideas, if "old ideas" are a pejorative for "if it is old it cannot be good". We have had far too many books that look at the New Testament with an idea towards rehabilitating discredited theory. The "old ideas" Dr. Raskin looks at are the "old ideas" of the original stories that have been hidden for over two thousand years.

This book is a fascinating road to travel, using a technique that has been in front of us for a long time. Dr. Raskin has performed a valuable service in writing this very useful book.

Charles Wilson


American Art Deco:  Architecture and Regionalism
American Art Deco: Architecture and Regionalism
by Carla Breeze
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $43.69
121 used & new from $28.41

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A completely beautiful book, February 21, 2006
For many, a trip to downtown is a visit to something and for something. It is seldom seen as a time of reflection, to see the "what and why" of the great boundaries of concrete, glass and steel. Even our great structures specifically designed to create a feeling of wonder or awe appear to be less a creation for humans than a mere sidelight of structural shrugs, a busy nod to a slight deviation in the casting of the concrete, and, "This won't cost too much more to add this, this *thing* to the design, will it?"

It didn't always work this way.

This is a completely beautiful book. Criticisms are few and far between and are of the "Why didn't she make this a bigger book" variety. This is a big book.

Art Deco was, and is, one of the highest achievements of architecture ever - ever! One look at the Niagara - Mohawk building should convince just about anyone. This book is a required review of the remaining Art Deco buildings with the most integrity.

I only wish that there was more in the way of, say, South Miami Art Deco and more southern works extant but that is the point: You come away from this book looking for the momentous in your own city or area. when you find a (usually restored) specimen, you simply must stop and gawk for great periods of time.

What a great book!


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