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Behind the Myths - the Foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam [Kindle Edition]

John Pickard
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

There has never been a more important time for a study of the social, economic and political origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three important world religions that share a common root. This book adopts a Marxist, that is a materialist, view of human development so it takes as its starting point the idea that gods, angels, miracles and other supernatural phenomena do not exist in the real world and therefore cannot be taken as explanations for the origin and rise of these faiths. It looks instead at the material conditions at appropriate periods in antiquity and the social and economic forces that were at work, to outline the real foundations of these three doctrines. In doing so, it challenges the historicity of key figures like Moses, Jesus and Mohammed.

This is a unique book which draws on the research, knowledge and expertise of hundreds of historians, archaeologists and scholars to create a new synthesis that is both coherent and completely based on a materialist world outlook. It is a book written by an unbeliever for other unbelievers, as a contribution to a discussion among atheists and secularists as to the real origins of the so-called Abramic faiths. It will be a revelatory read, even to those already firmly of an atheist or secularist persuasion, underpinning their non-religious views and it will provide a valuable resource for all those who might be coming to question the hold that organised religion has had on human society.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impresive... and readable 5 Feb. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Most books about this subject tend to be either very academic and/or religious works disguised as history and/or unreadable. Surprisingly this book is none of the above. Extremely well researched but with the ordinary reader in mind this book aproaches the subject of the origins of religion from a secular viewpoint and therefore looks at the known facts from the point of an historian. However, the most unexpected aspect of the book is just how readable it is - even if this subject is not your normal cup of tea (and I must own up to a certain interest in the subject) then you will still have little trouble in getting into this book. Useful for students and non-students alike.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am surprised that only a few people have reviewed this book so far. I rarely write book reviews (or any other type of review for that matter). However, the effort that John Pickard has to put to shed light on this topic cannot be possible be reflected on the price of the book.

This is an extremely well-researched piece of work that brought to my awareness hypothesis that I had never contemplated before. Most atheists take for granted that the majority of the religious texts are fables in terms of miracles and specific events. However, Pickard's book questions not only the fables themselves, but their authors, the existence of the biographical characters (such as Jesus or Mohammed) and whether historical locations (such as Nazareth and Mecca) were actually geographical locations at the time of writing.

Do not be put off by the "Marxist" approach. As a liberal, I did not find that using dialectical materialism as a research methodology has added any harmful bias to the account. The author concludes the book prompting for "a planned society" as way to curtail the rise of religion in the future. However, other than the conclusion itself, the rest of the book is perfectly readable and does not push the reader toward any specific line of thought.

As one drop of criticism, there is perhaps too much emphasis on social and political intrigue in detriment of non-human factors such as geography and natural events. For instance, most migrations are explained as politically-motivated rather than as the result of a pure material need. For example, droughts, floods, quakes and the prospect of more fertile land are all good reasons why societies migrate rather than just the escape of an oppressive political system. This omission perhaps reflects the "class struggle" viewpoint which deemphasises the constraints of nature itself.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most radical criticism of sacred texts 17 Sept. 2013
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Pickard's book sums up much of the work done by those scholars who have most comprehensively demolished the reliability of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Koran as history.

So, for example, in the Hebrew Bible he points to the absence of any evidence for the Exodus; he has the Canaanites defeated not by Joshua at the head of the Israelites who had come from Egypt, but by peasant uprisings within Canaan against the cities, and that at a time when the area was still subject to Egypt; there is no reference outside the Bible to David or Solomon, and no archaeological evidence for Solomon's great Temple: some scholars even doubt whether the united kingdom of David and Solomon ever existed. The Kingdom of Judah, it is argued, was completely insignificant and became important only after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians - but it was in Judah that the biblical narrative of the two kingdoms was written, making Judah more important than it was and frequently denigrating the kings and priests of Israel.

Pickard's treatment is avowedly Marxist and he frequently uses italics to stress his materialistic interpretations. When he dismisses traditional accounts of Islam, his tone, as well as his treatment is polemical. He consistently treats spiritual and theological matters as ideologies arising out of material interests. He is constantly looking for evidence of class struggles, both in the properly mythical and in the more strictly historical parts of the Hebrew Bible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Mags
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading this eye-opening book! Having read a few books on this topic recently, I was totally unprepared for the sheer depth of lies and deception that we have been force-fed in the last two and a half thousand years. I have to say that the words "gob-smacked" are probably the most appropriate here. Whether you choose to believe any of the stories that organised religion will have you believe, this book closes the door for me on all of it. If everyone in the world were to read this book and see religion for what it is - a way to control the masses and keep the people ignorant and downtrodden - they would all walk away and never turn back. Religious brain-washing from birth and throughout time has truly been the cause of most of the problems that we have here on earth and the sooner that people wake up the better. Did I enjoy this book? You bet I did! It has been the final lifting of the curtain for me and I will thoroughly recommend it to anyone seeking the truth. Thank you John Pickard.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Marxist Analysis of Abrahamic Religions
The book sets itself the ambitious task of taking the ground breaking study of early Christianity by Fredrick Engels and Karl Kautsky and extending the analysis to include all... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Taimur Rahman
5.0 out of 5 stars Materialist analysis of monotheism
A true successor to Kautsky's great work but with the added advantage of seeing all three monotheistic traditions in a line of continuity. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Maesh
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read for anyone interested in the origins and history of...
Didn't always wholly agree with the Marxist history slant, the foundations of these religions were probably more complex than that, but the theories outlined were more credible... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Thomas Kenny Delaney
3.0 out of 5 stars the truth of religions
Its quite heavy going is this book, full of facts, but stick with it
Published 3 months ago by Mr Peter Wainwright
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
for lovers of immense amounts of detail only
Published 4 months ago by P. Cittern
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love to discover the background of all religions.
Published 7 months ago by Ascension and consious shifts
4.0 out of 5 stars Religion? It started with the stars.
It should be remembered that the ‘verified’ history of all divine faith is strictly limited and derives from a long history of oral rather than written interpretations of religious... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mic Le Critique
4.0 out of 5 stars The great religious exposed - unfortunately fiction more than fact.
On the whole, it was a bit too detailed for the simple layman, but I wish that I could had read this years ago. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dave L.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
If you want to know how all religion have started and why ,read this book.
Published 7 months ago by Aziz Ghotaslo
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearly written and believable account
This book exposes the founding myths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to a Marxist critique. All of these religions were created during periods of great turbulence, war,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kindle Customer
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