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226 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biblical Studies?, August 8, 2007
This review is from: The End of Biblical Studies (Hardcover)
GNPR 70: Biblical Studies?
Marshall McLuhan, of "the medium is the message fame," used to say that his books did not sell well, because they contained more than the 25% of new material that most books did. For most people, "The End of Biblical Studies," a new book by Hector Avalos, Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, will contain material that is at least 75% new to them, even though much of what Professor Avalos has to say has been well known within the Religious Studies community for many years.
What Avalos brings to this book is incredible scholarship, remarkable attention to detail, and, most of all, willingness to tell it like it is. A variety of scholars, among them Bart Ehrman, William Dever, John Dominic Crossan, have been busy popularizing what translators, literary critics, and biblical archeologists, have been saying for years. Much to the distress of fundamentalists, there is no single definitive text of the Bible, the Bible has no claims to distinctive literary merits, and the extensive archeological research of the last hundred years has done nothing but puncture holes in the hope of establishing any claims anyone might have that the Bible is in any way historically accurate. (Avalos has an excellent section pointing to the radical discrepancy between the Big Bang theory and the origins account of Genesis.)
Avalos, who has a Ph.D. from Harvard in Biblical Studies, points out that few people even in very religious America, really read the Bible, and even fewer have anything but a bowdlerized grasp of what is really there. His erudition in this regard is exceptional, taking apart the popular softenings of texts like Luke 14:25: "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother...cannot be my disciple." Christian exegetes have soft-pedaled this, but the text really does say "hate," a verb that has no other possible translation. (One Christian exegete says: "this is indeed a hard saying.")
What does Professor Avalos hope to accomplish? As he says: "Our purpose is to excise from modern life what little of the Bible is being used and also to eliminate the potential use of any sacred scripture in the modern world." Jews and Christians are quick to find quotations in the Koran that relate to killing of the infidels, but are eager to pass over all those references to slaughter of the innocents that occur in various books of the Bible.
Avalos makes the case that the Bible was written by primitive people in a cultural context so foreign to our own that the Bible no longer makes sense. "What I seek is liberation from the very idea that any sacred text should be an authority for modern human existence." He refers constantly to the "bibliolatry" that has gotten us into so much trouble historically, and laments that the publishing industry and academia have such a vested interest in keeping such a form of idol worship alive.
"Abolishing human reliance on sacred texts is imperative when those sacred texts imperil the existence of human civilization as it is currently configured. The letter can kill. That is why the only mission of biblical studies should be to end biblical studies as we know it." This is an extremely well written book, but written at a sufficiently popular level that even someone not well versed in biblical studies can benefit from it. Even those who read the Bible continually will find at least 25% new material, and everyone who reads it will come away with 100% satisfaction. You may not agree with what Professor Avalos concludes, but his well-put together arguments deserve your thoughtful attention.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 13, 2007, 6:10:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 13, 2007, 6:12:14 AM PDT
What I find amusing is that Avalos pretends that everyone else has presuppositions that affect their research, while also pretending that his own atheism does not drive his agenda.

If you read his companion volume, Fighting Words, where he calls for the elimination of religion from the public AND PRIVATE life, you will get the drift.

Come on Hector, who ya kiddin?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2007, 6:32:29 PM PDT
I don't see anything amusing by the fact that 99% of Biblical scholars are Christian or Jews
endoctrinated since their youngest age whose studies are leaded by theologic agenda
and controlled by powerful Christian editor companies.

Very rare are free thinkers like Hector...

The Bible is crap from start to finish,
it is time for western civilizations to learn other paths of living...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2007, 4:51:14 PM PST
S.D. Parker says:

Free thinkers like Hector are rare because they are, for the most part, free of thinking. Of course you're presumably of the notion that all those Bible scholars despite their intelligence are under what could only be described as a mass delusion; which thanks yet again to the atheists convenient stroke of luck you and your ilk just happen to have the distinct blessing of overcoming. But seeing as you appear to lend credence to ideas like Doherty's mythic Christ theory, you may want to have a look in the mirror before directing the charge of delusion at others.

Best Regards,

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2008, 7:46:46 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 17, 2008, 5:44:49 AM PST
But Dane Parker, the entire message of the bible is not even
"be good and go to heaven" itself a naive and childish concern,
but "believe or be damned" (Mark 16:16, Mat 10:33, Luke 12:9, John 3:18).

The bible is plagued with a general obscurity, ambiguity and illogicality,
promotes superstition over science,
teaches a morality unlivable
and doesn't contain a hint of humor
or any mature acceptance of sexuality
or anything distinctly human.
(I was myself Christian until I read the Bible)

"If your very own brother, or your son or daughter,
or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying,
"Let us go and worship other gods"
Show him no pity.
Do not spare him or shield him.
You must certainly put him to death.
Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.
Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God,
who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again."
Deuteronomy 13:6-11

Concerning the Christ Myth, this theory gives us the best possible explanation for Christian texts themselves:
- the absence of any historical Jesus in the 80,000 words of the epistles
- the absence of Christ, Jesus, any death and story in Q1, Q2 and first layer of Thomas
- the fictive, nonhistorical, symbolic and midrashic stories of the Gospels

J.P. Holding and yourself who supports him have a part of responsibility in this mass delusion.
Your book of propaganda of the Jewish nation was not divinely inspired, nor was it written by wise men, but as Hector argues apocalyptic, ignorant, sectarian and primitives ones.

Today, American absurd 'bibliolatry' is a huge anachronism.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2008, 10:28:54 AM PST
A. Fuller says:
What modern scholars don't say is that their methods of interpretation are exactly the same as uninformed fundamentalists, and quite different than those of early church fathers such as Augustine and Origen. Jesus always taught the masses in parables (Mat 13:34-35, Mark 4:34). The earliest fathers taught the scriptures were allegorical, as did Jesus and the apostles.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2008, 4:49:03 PM PST
S.D. Parker says:
Precisely what I figured -- just another "rational" atheist that buys into conspiracy theories.

And since you give no detail on your claims, neither will I than to say:

<<<the absence of any historical Jesus in the 80,000 words of the epistles>>>

Uh... yes they do.

<<<the absence of Christ, Jesus, any death and story in Q1, Q2 and first layer of Thomas>>>

But then Thomas is a second century document, and the multilayered Q hypothesis of which you speak is almost entirely conjecture...

<<<the fictive, nonhistorical, symbolic and midrashic stories of the Gospels>>>

Oh yeah? Well how about this: This Gospels are factual, historical, stories of the ancient genre known as bioi. Take that!

Now seriously, Coast to Coast AM doesn't happen to be your favorite radio program does it?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2008, 10:09:45 AM PST
nobody says:
How do you know how Jesus taught? Where you there? Or do you believe the scriptures blindly?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2008, 10:48:37 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 20, 2008, 10:49:00 AM PST
S.D. Parker says:
How do you know anything about history before you were born Evelyne? Were you there? Or do you believe history books blindly?

Posted on Mar 2, 2008, 1:42:59 PM PST
Mr. Bammel--I am not familiar with Mr. Avalos's work, but I think you are being a little harsh when you state that the christian Bible has 'no claims to distinctive literary merits.' I may have completely misunderstood your point, but I think some of the language in the King James translation is some of the best in the English language--but that writing is a tribute to the literary talents of the writers employed by 'King James,' that those translators had a strong bias in favor of turn of phrase, as opposed to accuracy of translation. The King James Bible is a beautiful transliteration--but that doesn't change the fact it's still a transliteration. So, if you are saying that the 'Bible' is without distincitive literary merit, meaning the original ancient texts--then I probably agree with you.

Nevertheless, I quibble, because I couldn't agree more with your comments on 'bibliolatry.'

And Mr. Parker, regarding your comments on 'bioi' and the Gospels as factual, historical stories--I would suggest that you read AN Wilson's 'Jesus: A Life.' Mr. Guilbaud knows his onions, as they say where I come from. I would be more careful before you go around accusing others of being 'free of thinking.'

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2008, 11:30:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2008, 11:32:28 PM PST
S.D. Parker says:
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