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Andrew Carruth (UK)

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Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi

4.0 out of 5 stars One handed page turning a thing of the past?, 5 May 2014
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I love this product. The one thing that annoys me though is the lack of a handy page scrolling button that was available on previous generations. The touchscreen is laid out in such a way so I can't turn the page when the kindle is in my left hand. Yes it's a minor annoyance in an otherwise great device, but now I have to put my glass of brandy down to turn a page. I've tried using my nose, but it just makes you look like a mental patient banging his head against a wall. Apart from that I love it!


Hell's Prisoner: The Shocking True Story Of An Innocent Man Jailed For Eleven Years In Indonesia's Most Notorious Prisons
Hell's Prisoner: The Shocking True Story Of An Innocent Man Jailed For Eleven Years In Indonesia's Most Notorious Prisons
by Christopher Parnell
Edition: Paperback

1.0 out of 5 stars A work of fiction, 19 Mar 2014
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I have no doubt the author was in jail but the rest of his story is farfetched. For example, after saving prisinors from a cholera outbreak he fights with a group of assassins, he is killed and comes back to life again in a morgue!

He claims to have translated legal documents into Indonesian and distributed them (thereby becoming a hero of a prison uprising). However he can't even spell the name of the prison he was in and there are many errors in his Indonesian language.

Also, he claimed to be innocent but freely admits travelling with false documents and using various aliases.

Bovine faeces!

You're better off reading Hotel K by Kathryn Bonella for a more accurate depiction of Indonesian prisons.


Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
by Bart D. Ehrman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intruiging look at extinct versions of christianity, 18 Feb 2011
Ehrman masterfully demonstrates that there were many flavours of Christianity in the past, most of which did not survive. Most intruiging are the Ebioties, the Jewish Christians, who actually revered Jesus' brother James rather than the Apostle Paul. Although they likely preserved a more accurate teaching about Jesus, this sect died out when the emerging Catholic Church (Ehrman calls them the proto-orthadox) triumphed over all.

The story of how the proto-orthadox won the day is told in a way that is accessible to the layman.

This book is a fascinating study of these alternative christianities and their often weird understanding of Jesus and God. I can recommend it to anyone who has a passing interest in the early history of Christianity.


Jesus the Jew (SCM Classics)
Jesus the Jew (SCM Classics)
by Geza Vermes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.95

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every student of the historical Jesus needs to read this., 18 Feb 2011
Put quite simply, every student of the historical Jesus should have this book in their library. Yes, to the general reader the title may be a tough, even boring read, but you cannot fault Vermes for his meticulous, detail oriented research.

I particularily liked his study of the term 'son of god' which actually has a Jewish history predating Jesus - originally it meant someone who was pious and close to god. Of course, Christians have taken this term literally. But it does remind us that Jesus was very much a Jew of his age.


Paul: The Mind of the Apostle
Paul: The Mind of the Apostle
by A.N. Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a novel, 18 Feb 2011
Wilson is simply a master at making the reader 'feel' a bygone era rather than merely describing it in dry, academic terms. He is also not scared about filling in the blanks, for example he says that if Paul was a temple gaurd then he might have been in place to actually witness the execution of Jesus. While there is not a shred of evidence to support this view, it's still fun to imagine to possibilities.

While this is a great book I would only, however, recommend it as a beginners guide to Paul. There isn't much of a discussion of the contradictions between Paul's own writing, and his biography in Acts. For that you will have to look elsewhere.

In the end, this book reads like a novel - and it is highly enjoyable and extremely well written. Wilson is a master of the English language.


Whose Word is it?: The Story Behind Who Changed The New Testament and Why
Whose Word is it?: The Story Behind Who Changed The New Testament and Why
by Bart D. Ehrman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.58

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proof that the bible is not innerant, 18 Feb 2011
This book is a must read for anyone who wants to learn about errors in the New Testament and how they came about. With his usual clarity, Ehrman reveals that many errors were inserted by mistake (the ancients were also bad spellers) but some things were purposely added or removed to support a theological point.

For example, did Jesus die by the grace of God (In Greek, Chariti Theou) or did he die seperated from God (Choris Theou)? Both spelling variations are found in the numerous available manuscripts, but the best attested version is that Jesus died WITHOUT God. Someone found this an unattractive proposition and so changed a few letters. A small change that makes a big difference.

Thinking like this leads us to an important point: How do you know what you are reading in your bible is correct?

A brilliant and fascinating read, and a great introduction to textual criticism.


Religion Explained: The Human Instincts That Fashion Gods, Spirits and Ancestors
Religion Explained: The Human Instincts That Fashion Gods, Spirits and Ancestors
by Pascal Boyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tough read, but rewarding in the end., 18 Feb 2011
The basic idea of 'Religion Explained' is that there are mental systems inherent within us that lead us to assign emotions and motivations to inanimate objects - a bit like seeing faces in the clouds. Yes, the book is quite a tough read, especially in the first few chapters, but it does get better once you understand what he is trying to do.

His account is peppered with some great anacdotes of various tribes and their way of percieving the world which certainly adds colour to the book, while also reminding us that the Western world view is far from universal. There are some useful rebuttals of why religion is needed - for example, no, religion is not a source of comfort, if anything religions paint a terrifying picture of the world.

If you have an interest in athropology, psychology or the evolution of religion, this is a great book to have.


The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel
by Israel Finkelstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Testament is NOT accurate history., 18 Feb 2011
I once heard a christian apologist confidently proclaim that there was nothing in biblical archaology that disproved the Old Testament account of Israelite history. 'The Bible Unearthed' certainly casts a shadow over such bold pronouncements.

This book makes a brilliant case for not taking the Old Testament as historical. For example, there are plenty of Egyptian texts (eg the Tel-el Amarna letters), and writing in tombs that provides a good insight into the land of Canaan. Nothing in them mentions an exodus or conquest! And wheras the Old Testament describes the Canaan cities as strong, with high walls, archaology reveals they were weak and lacking defensive structures. Clearly the biblical account is lacking...

Read this book. It's fascinating, intriguing and eye opening.


Your Inner Fish: The amazing discovery of our 375-million-year-old ancestor
Your Inner Fish: The amazing discovery of our 375-million-year-old ancestor
by Neil Shubin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 18 Feb 2011
This is a great little book that examines humanity's ancient ancestors. No we are not descended from monkeys (I hate it when I hear that), if you go far enough backwards we have rather more fishy ancestors. And Shubin describes the fossil of the creature that stands between the fish and the first land living creatures. I did enjoy reading about the discovery of the fossil in the Arctic, which gives you an insight into the life of a Paleontologist.

Equally intruiging are the sections on genes, especially the Sonic Hedgehog gene. Shubin actually does have lab experience and so his insights into this aspect are fascinating. He goes on to describe our fishy origins and how we got our basic body plan, teeth, ears and vision from primitive ancestors etc. The best thing are the crystal clear images which makes his points come alive.

Well worth a read!


Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
by Daniel C. Dennett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, great but not brilliant., 18 Feb 2011
This is a great book that objectively examines religion (all religions equally), and religious thought, and seeks to burst their bubble. And through a combination of logic, anecdote and well considered argument, Dennett succeeds.

The best way that I can think to describe this book is 'an American version of the God Delusion without the polemics,' but it is also more than that because it also tries to explain the origins of religious thought, rather than merely shooting it down.

It's definitely worth a read for atheists, or religious people who are questioning their faith.


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