Stuff I’m Reading


A while back I bought Samuel Graham’s The Origins of the Bible: The Facts and Fiction Behind the World’s Greatest Book. Ha! This was not at all what I expected. I was looking for a study of the secular and pagan influences on the writers and translators of the Bible. Instead, this book is apologetics, attempting to prove the truth of what the Bible says and giving a history of English translations instead of focusing on the origins of the texts. I’m about halfway through the book … and that’s likely as far as I’ll go. I checked the index after reading yesterday and there is no mention of the Council of Nicea. How can you write any history of the Bible without mentioning Nicea?

Today I read this (very long) essay called “The Bible and Christianity: The Historical Origins” by Scott Bidstrup. This is much more along the lines of what I was looking for. The essay is fascinating, but he only cites two sources, despite a lengthy listing of recommended books.

The evolution of mythology/religion/theology continues to fascinate me. So many books, so little time to read them all.


0 responses to “Stuff I’m Reading”

  1. I’ve been snapping up a ton of similar books. Recently, I’ve added:
    The End of Faith by Sam Harris — Could not recommend this one more so far. Excellent book.
    Mythic Past by Thomas L. Thompson
    Test Your Bible IQ by Christopher O. Edwards
    Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Erhman
    The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception by Baigent and Leigh (two of the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail, which was a big influence on The Da Vinci Code)
    How to Make Love Like a Porn Star by Jenna Jameson (oh, wait, wrong subject; and, like she wrote it, anyway — right)
    Crusades: The Illustrated History by Thomas F. Madden
    All of Elaine Pagels books.
    I just recently joined the History Book Club which probably explains the sudden run on these titles. Of course I haven’t read them all yet but am working my way through them. You’re welcome to borrow any any time. I won’t even card you.
    You know what this means, don’t you? You and I are going to have to collaborate on a religious-themed thriller one of these days. They’d run us out of Oklahoma on a rail.

    • The Oklahoma Heretics. Has a nice ring to it.
      I’ve read Pagels’ Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil, but that’s the only one from your list I’ve read. (Jenna’s book sounds very intriguing.) Some of the books on this subject that I have are:
      The Hebrew Goddess by Patai
      Inanna by Wolkstein and Kramer
      The Nag Hammadi Library edited by James M. Robinson
      The Living Goddess by Gimbutas
      And Joseph Campbell’s The Transformation of Myth Through Time and The Power of Myth
      There are others scattered around the house — several collections of various mythologies from different continents and cultures — but those are the ones I refer to most, and the ones I used most as references when I was writing Amara’s Prayer.

  2. I spend a lot of time reading about religions online. And the whole topic of the origins of the Bible and the gnostic books are just fascinating!
    I’m hoping to get a copy of the gnostic books one of these days; have you read any of them?

    • I’ve read parts of the Gnostic Gospels from The Nag Hammadi Library edited by James M. Robinson. The Wisdom of Sophia and the Gospel of Thomas are the ones that stand out most in my memory.
      It can be difficult reading, partly because they are just fragments and because the ideas presented seem pretty alien. I mean, there’s a comfort level because there’s some familiarity with mainstream Christianity, but then there’s some radically different ideas. The idea of Gnosis and Gnosticism is pretty appealing to me, but some of the modern “preachings” on the subject seem bizarre.
      Definitely worth checking out, if just for the historical perspective on what was being taught before the consolidation of the Catholic church.

      • As far as the texts themselves the only one I’ve read in full is Pagels’s translation of Thomas, which is available in a slim volume with a lengthy introduction. The gospel itself is rather short but the whole book is worth the price.
        I don’t know how many times I’ve walked Willis Barnstone’s Gnostic Bible halfway to the register before changing my mind. One of these days I’ll make it home with that one.

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