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Gospel Fictions Hardcover – January 1, 1988
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About the Author
Randel Helms is a writer, professor, biblical scholar, and specialist in the works of William Blake and J.R.R. Tolkien. Helms was born in Alabama and was educated at the University of California Riverside. After leaving school, Helms began teaching at a number of universities around the United States. Many of his books are dedicated to debunking the Bible as fiction. He is the author of Gospel Fictions, Who Wrote the Gospels, and The Bible Against Itself. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
Top customer reviews
I am not biblically literate, neither am I religious. But in an attempt to understand the mindset of others, I read religious history and, occasionally, religious commentary and philosophy. Good examples of both are hard to find because they are too often tainted by prejudice and dogma. For example, the existence of Jesus Christ is taken a priori without historical proof and the rest follows in a predictable fashion.
Randel Helms is not predictable. "Gospel Fictions" is not biblical commentary in any usual sense. Neither can you conclude that the author is an atheist. Helms states several times that, in spite of his premise that the Gospels are fictions written to serve a religious purpose, the existence of Jesus is not disproved, nor is it part of any agenda. The irony is that Helms has performed the same exercise as the writers of the Gospels did nearly two thousand years ago in reverse. By this I mean Helm's meticulous illumination of contrivances between the New and Old Testaments, which appears to be nothing more than revisionist history. I leave it to you to decide who I am referring to. I find it interesting that believers will read the Testaments in the forward direction and non believers in the reverse direction. Helm's term for this is self-reflexive. It is what divides us.
I want to thank the man who calls himself "Odysseus at home" and lives in Santiago, Chile. I have been to Santiago and loved it. Did you know that they sell books in the subway in vending machines? You've got to love a city like that. Please read his five star review of the Gospel Fictions and his others which are thoughtful and intelligent. I have purchased several books based upon his reviews. Small world, isn't it?
It is brief: 154 pages. It is entertained: it takes just seven chapters to let you know what is the point. And, last but not least, it is overwhelming. Randel Helms transmit with simplicity what is really dark matter: Fiction or reality? Did Jesus exist? I mean, really? Well, as you already know, Jesus was one among several saviors, preachers, religious leaders, wonder-workers, that lived and walked with guys like us two thousand years ago and were considered gods. He is not an exception he is a rule. But why? Or better, why not?
On the other hand, maybe you already note that the title says "Fictions" not "Myths." And the reason is that at the core of the book resides this lucid idea: "By fiction I mean--to put the matter in simple terms at the outset--a narrative whose purpose is less to describe the past than to affect the present." So that what the author does (and it is exactly what you get) is to show you that the Gospels are, no more no less, works of art, "the supreme fictions in our culture."
Fiction, in this case, is different from myth, because the latter works as an explanation of the physical world. The former is not an explanation, is a tool that has been created to make you believe in what doesn't exist: King Arthur is a myth, Sherlock Holmes is a fiction.
Randel Helms is a literary critic with several books published and a life as a professor of English Literature. As such, he coined the sentence that says that the Bible is a battlefield where the authors are the soldiers. And if you read it (with the help of some scholars) you'll discover why that sentence is damn right.
This is not a book for believers in the Biblical inerrancy. If you are one of them, do not lose your time in reading GF. But, if you are a believer and (emphatically) a person interested in knowing why the Bible looks like a patchwork instead of a coherent clay block, you need to read this. And remember: Randel Helms doesn't tell you what do you have to believe, he tells you what's that in what you believe.
This is a good work that deserves five stars. It's brevity helps to keep the message in your head, eliciting new and interesting insights.