From a historical perspective, the Bible is shockingly, provably wrong--a point supported by today's best archaeological and historical scholarship but not well understood by (or communicated to) the public. Yet this emphatically does not mean that the Bible isn't, in some very real measure, true, argues scholar of mysticism Richard Smoley.
Smoley reviews the most authoritative historical evidence to demonstrate that figures such as Moses, Abraham, and Jesus are not only unlikely to have existed, but bear strong composite resemblances to other Near Eastern religious icons. Likewise, the geopolitical and military events of Scripture fail to mesh with the largely settled historical time line and social structures. Smoley meticulously shows how our concepts of the Hebrew and Christian God, including Christ himself, are an assemblage of ideas that were altered, argued over, and edited--until their canonization. This process, to a large degree, gave Western civilization its consensus view of God.
But these conclusions are not cause for nihilism or disbelief. Rather, beneath the metaphorical figures and mythical historicism of Scripture appears an extraordinary, truly transcendent theology born from the most sacred and fully realized spiritual and human insights of the antique Eastern world. Far from being "untrue," the Bible is remarkably, extraordinarily true as it connects us to the sublime insights of our ancient ancestors and points to a unifying ethic behind many of the world's faiths.
- ISBN-13: 9780399185557
- ISBN-10: 0399185550
- Publisher: Tarcherperigee
- Publish Date: June 2016
- Page Count: 320
- Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.6 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-04-11
- Reviewer: Staff
With a folksy approach to examining the nature of the Bible and God, Smoley (Inner Christianity) treads in pedestrian fashion over ground already well covered by others. Smoley trudges through an overview of biblical history—covering the time of the Judges, the exile and its aftermath, Jesus and his context, and the birth of the church, among other topics—before he finally comes to his own points in the book’s closing pages. Along the way, he commits a few gaffes in the service of his attempt to uncover ideas he believes still have little circulation; for example, Smoley treats the divergence of biblical events and archaeological records as startling news. He concludes that the New Testament Gospels contain “much material about Jesus that is not factually true,” but fails to mention that scholars have long held the Gospels to be proclamations, not biographies. Smoley undertakes this overview in order to back up his theory that Jesus is an incarnation of Yahweh, the Great Angel—a figure who appears in the canonical books of Genesis and Daniel as mediator between God and humankind. Readers seeking a clear understanding of the findings of biblical scholarship will be better rewarded elsewhere, but those looking for esoteric theories about the nature of God and Jesus will benefit from Smoley’s book. (June)