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Customer Review

on February 13, 2011
The answer, I submit, is because this is a very confused book, written by individuals who apparently do not understand the method of studying ancient history and the use of ancient texts to understand history. Perhaps I'm criticizing a work of popular piety unfairly by pointing out that it's not an academic study, but to somehow focus on Bauer and Ehrman instead of the evidence that they put forward (and--very importantly--modifications and revisions of Bauer's model) is at the very least disingenuous. Contemporary philosophical movements (like "post-modernism") and the contemporary interest of Western societies in "diversity" have nothing to do with the study of antiquity. Whether or not (and if so, to what degree) early Christianity was anything like Christianity in the early twenty-first century has nothing to do with the study of that historical period. Ironically, it is the authors of this book themselves--not the historians they criticize--who look into the deep well of history only to see their own reflection. Certainly positions that became "orthodox" were already to be found at the earliest stages of Christianity, the creation of a straw man of "opponents" whom it is claimed suggest otherwise notwithstanding. It is certain too that positions later regarded as "unorthodox" were also found in Christianity at this stage. So the very notion of the "heresy of orthodoxy" is entirely ahistorical and anachronistic and reveals that the authors undertake not a disinterested, critical investigation of antiquity, but are merely interested in what they view as repercussions for their own form of contemporary Christianity based on such historical study. Whether there are any repercussions (and most of us Christians today, realizing full well that the church has developed over the course of history just as any other institution, would tend to think there are few if any repercussions) is a question to be dealt with by the theologians. In that this book is interested in *that* question, it is really a work of theology--though one that does not deal honestly with the historical evidence. Theologically driven "history" is not good history; and I hope theologians would chime in to say that it's not good theology either!
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