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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read
I found this a fascinating, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining tome. It deals at length with such matters as the origins and authorship of various books of the Bible (not what you would imagine); the degree to which biblical texts can be considered free of editorial interference (not much it seems - people have been tampering and manipulating them from the...
Published on 6 Mar. 2011 by lizsmith

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition Not Proof Read!
I'm afraid the Kindle edition is utterly worthless. It has obviously been scanned and nobody has bothered to proof read it! There are whole sections where words are literally joined together - four or five at a time - and the spelling mistakes are absolutely embarrassing in their quantity. I'm sure it is a good book but make sure you buy the original paper version.
Published 18 months ago by Mr. Peter A. Green


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read, 6 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Beyond Belief: Two Thousand Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church (Hardcover)
I found this a fascinating, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining tome. It deals at length with such matters as the origins and authorship of various books of the Bible (not what you would imagine); the degree to which biblical texts can be considered free of editorial interference (not much it seems - people have been tampering and manipulating them from the start to fit with their own views); as well as such questions as who really founded christianity (includes some decidedly dodgy characters), the extent to which modern christian doctrines, teachings and attitudes are supported by what is actually said in the Bible (very little in many cases), the reasons why there are so many Christian denominations, the various areas of conflict between christianity and science, and a great deal else. This is a scholarly work and the author has obviously done a tremendous amount of research, but it is by no means dry and contains considerable doses of humour, as in the description of the astonishingly deviant careers of various popes. I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone who like to delve a little into the true story of the development of christianity rather than the sanitised verson that Christian groups themselves prefer to present.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for believers and non-believers alike, 18 Jun. 2014
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This book is simply a crushingly comprehensive hatchet job on the teachings of the Christian church. It demonstrates the complete lack of authority and legitimacy of the canonical texts and demolishes any notion that they somehow represent the word of God. Non-believers will find new stuff here which compliments their current understanding. Believers will find it an uncomfortable read at best, but better to understand the limitations of the biblical texts and other established church teachings (they aren't all in the bible!) and try to live by the best of the moral and ethical teachings that remain, than to have faith in (a state of) ignorance. Having been myself ignorant of most of the facts about the biblical texts throughout my childhood upbringing in the church, I am now amazed at just how effectively the theologians kept them out of sight of ordinary churchgoers.

Incidentally, as I recall, there are some reviewers on here who have tried to damn the book on the grounds that its formatting and editing are so poor as to make the work unreadable. Don't worry; it isn't!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars believe this book, 20 Mar. 2012
The subtitle of this book makes clear from the outset what its author thinks of Christianity and, one suspects, of all proselytising and institutional religions. But we need not expect bias from him. He builds his arguments on tireless research and scrupulous objectivity, sets them out in simple language we can all understand, and tempers the outrage and the shock with gentle irony and wit. He fearlessly demolishes great swathes of received wisdom and punctures holy bladders full of gas. But there is no roaring here, no spittle or nastiness, just admirable scholarship and a forensic handling of the corpse.

This is a big book dealing at times with quite obscure material. We learn for example of Pope Leo X calculating that a pious German who collected over 17,000 holy relics had saved himself 694,779,550.5 days in Purgatory. Where else could I have learned this? But the glorious obscurities are delivered in an easy flowing narrative. The author's love of history and scolarship propel us down the centuries and through the book to its very satisfying end.

Mr. McDonald may not have got out much in the last twenty years but his generosity has given us a unique, provocative and vastly informative book. I wonder if his favourite film is "Monty Python's Life of Brian"?
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and encyclopaedic, 19 Jun. 2011
Beyond Belief in an impressively comprehensive, encyclopaedic survey of the history of Christianity and an examination of its key doctrines. Structured and written to be accessible to the layman, it also has over 400 references for those who want to go into the topics in more detail.

Many facts are presented which may surprise: the role of orthography in the development of orthodoxy; the fulfilment of revelation which was never revealed; the problems with popes (not just a little jobsharing with Avignon or a couple of bad Borgias).

The author takes an analytical approach to discussions of doctrine - the section on Transubstantiation is particularly good - and although we can see what his own viewpoint is, presents the facts and analysis to us clearly, then stands back to allow us to make up our own minds. Overall a fascinating book with an original approach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye-Opener, 17 July 2014
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An excellent book which should be on every school curriculum, I wish it had been available 60 years ago. It is true to say that history is written by the victors, and this applies in religion as in every other field. A shocking, though thoroughly enjoyable and immensely informative read. I was so engrossed that I barely noticed the appalling formatting, as commented on by other reviewers. Yes, it is a nuisance, but I was reading so fast and furiously that it did not detract from the whole. It will probably be more annoying when I go back to read it again a bit slower. I hope it will be corrected in future Kindle editions, as it does the author a great disservice.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating examination of the world's greatest hoax., 6 July 2013
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Amazon Customer (Brentwood, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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I've ploughed through a great many Christian and atheist books during the last few years but this has to be the best so far (I'm only halfway through at present). It's a long book but the style is extremely readable, despite the approach to the subject matter being detailed and the text supported by lengthy footnotes. Many books of this type can be heavy going but if, like me, you're trying to make sense of religion and reality, this is essential reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a thorough in depth analysis of the faith and folly of the church, 6 Jun. 2014
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A well researched and highly informative work. The book is a major contribution to the arguments for free and rational thought and shows the results throughout history where this has been denied. Highly recommended as both a straight read and valuable reference
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but very poor Kindle edition., 4 Mar. 2014
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I've given this book 3 stars overall because, while I have no reason to believe the *printed* book is anything other than of a high quality, the current Kindle version is really badly done. The text is centered all the way through the book, rather than left-aligned as normal - this makes for an uncomfortable and tiring reading experience and the Kindle version has very obviously has not been proof-read: there are numerous errors throughout, such as 4 or 5 words running into each other without spaces; headings running into the opening text of a chapter, without spaces; tables of information with their original formatting lost, making them almost impossible to read properly. The list of faults is long.

So, in essence, while the book itself is very good and well written on the whole, the Kindle edition is poor and seriously needs an update. I find it hard to believe that the author could have sanctioned this e-book. When a customer has paid for a Kindle book, a certain standard should be expected: this edition falls way below that standard.

3 to 4 stars for the actual book content, 1 star for the Kindle edition.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition Not Proof Read!, 25 Jan. 2014
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Mr. Peter A. Green "p_a_green" (Ashford, Kent) - See all my reviews
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I'm afraid the Kindle edition is utterly worthless. It has obviously been scanned and nobody has bothered to proof read it! There are whole sections where words are literally joined together - four or five at a time - and the spelling mistakes are absolutely embarrassing in their quantity. I'm sure it is a good book but make sure you buy the original paper version.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read, 24 Jan. 2014
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Brilliant book and most enjoyable read, could hardly put it down. Would recommend this book to anyone who favours faith over reason
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