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18 of 19 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but very poor Kindle edition.
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...
Published 4 months ago by Bookman


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read, 6 Mar 2011
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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4 of 4 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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This review is from: Beyond Belief: Two Thousand Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church (Kindle Edition)
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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11 of 12 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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9 of 10 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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10 of 11 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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This review is from: Beyond Belief: Two Thousand Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church (Kindle Edition)
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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1 of 1 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 review is from: Beyond Belief: Two Thousand Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church (Kindle Edition)
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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8 of 9 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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D. J. Cook (Brentwood, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond Belief: Two Thousand Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church (Kindle Edition)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version issues, 23 Feb 2014
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F. Ward "Ward" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beyond Belief: Two Thousand Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church (Kindle Edition)
2 things here. Firstly the book is interesting and has a lot of content but I think towards the end it starts throwing a lot of facts and titbits rather the careful examination of the start. It seems to also lack structure - there aren't many chapters, it almost becomes a ramble. Secondly the kindle version is centre aligned for some reason (you get used to it after a while but it bugs at first).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good read - all Catholic's and other Christian's should read it, 20 Jun 2014
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The history of the church is very much a part of the history of the western world. Most Christians and for that matter most believers do not know anything about the real history of their religion. Perhaps if they did, they would be a bit more sceptical about the church's claims.

However, at least the historic basis of the Christian faith is open to scrutiny by writers like James McDonald. Unfortunately this is NOT true for all religions.

I would recommend it to anybody interested in the history of Europe and the way the church has influenced it over the centuries.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read, 16 May 2013
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This is an interesting beautifully written book, meticulously researched, yet fresh and engaging.A surprising page turner, it has a good narrative style from a natural teacher. No hint of disdain or ego here.
The layout makes it easy to read and reference.
It is a book I happily & frequently recommend to people of all ages. (I refuse to lend for fear of not having it returned!)
I absolutely love it.
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