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The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible Hardcover – 1 Jan 1992

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Jan 1992
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 478 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; 1st American Ed edition (1 Jan. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394573986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394573984
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 17.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 889,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
If you are expecting a populist best seller challenging the basis of Christian faith, this is the wrong book. What you will be getting instead is a very serious and considered account of the current results of historical and linguistic research into one of most important works of mankind. As a Christian or Jew you can of course expect to be challenged, but not by the ravings of an atheist with an agenda to disprove the existence of God, but instead by a new and sober perspective on the process of the creation of the bible. Divine inspiration or not, Lane Fox allows you to keep to your own council. You will however learn that many readily accepted religious truths about authorship or time of composition of certain texts are indeed the invention of later generations. You might be also surprised as to how some facts, taken commonly as gospel today, have no foundation in the bible, let alone history, but are inventions of the medieval period. Take for example the 'Three Magi' from the Adoration: Casper, Melcher and Balthasar, allegedly three kings now buried in Cologne. Nowhere in the Bible are either their number or their names specified, and nobody in the bible mentions their royalty either. Their names appeared for the first time a remarkable 1100 years later.
There are no world changing theories put forward in this book, but it is a very insightful account into the culture and history of the early tribes of Israel and the forces and events that shaped the creation of two major religions. This subject matter is fairly complex and often in need of very thorough explanations. This makes the book somewhat strenuous to read, but to do the subject proper justice it is in my opinion a necessity.
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Format: Paperback
I like this book because it makes accessible a fascinating field of work which is very little popularised. The religious position is that the bible's plainly human authors were divinely inspired; the historical position from this book is that more worldly motives were frequently at work. This book examines the evidence for that and gives one a view of the size of the issue, in both testaments.
Lane Fox is not a biblical expert, but rather has used his expertise in the common currency of the historian, source criticism. Nonetheless he relies mainly on the work of others, and when he expresses preferences between possible variant conclusions, he (at least appears) to inform you of the alternatives.
Particularly interesting is the evidence that extensive parts of the bible have been compiled and edited from earlier by various early authors, and then later recompiled and re-edited, etc. We can infer the particular obsessions and agendas of the principal editors. The existence of the Dead Sea Scrolls, giving many variant texts, provides further evidence that old testament texts had a tendency towards revision in the light of political expediency.
The new testment is also examined. Unfortunately a clear conclusion is not available on whether the letters attributed to St Paul have a single author. It also examines whether there is more than one John (gospel vs revelations).
The book is a hard read. The problem with a genre such as this is that an author can get away with crankiness and only experts would notice. The book does not appear to be an attempt at sensationalism, nor does the author have an obvious axe to grind, but he is nonetheless aiming at the wider historical market. I have given it 4 stars because it appears that he has apparently made accessible an important area of work that others prefer to obscure. That makes it an important book on my bookshelf.
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By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is, by any standard, a sublime, but for the believers an extremely hard-hitting, analysis of the available texts of the Old and the New Testament.

The text of the Bible
For the author, `we have scriptures in plenty, but the original scripture has been lost forever. By the time of Jesus nobody read the scriptures correctly, because nobody knew what they were.'
The text of the Bible is a result of padding and reinterpretation. The Christian scriptures were `a battlefield for rewriting and textual alterations.'

The truth of the Bible
There is absolutely no coherence to support a theory of biblical truth, a correspondence with what really happened, with the facts.
A few examples. The Bible contains blatant contradictories in its story of the Creation and the Flood. The 4 Christian Gospels do not give us one single truth. Jesus' birth date and age are false. Outside the Bible, there is no evidence that Moses, David, Solomon or Joshua ever lived.

The sanctity of the Bible and its consequences
What have the prophets of the Old Testament predicted about Jesus Christ or Christianity? Nothing.
Moreover, the belief that as God's word, the scriptures never err, has been prominent in evangelical Christianity with important consequences for the uses of the scriptures in Christian missions throughout the world.

For Robin Lane Fox, `the theology of a single, jealous God, who required total love from his chosen people, had clear, earthly consequences. Yahweh ordered genocide against the unbelieving neighbors. Within Israel, those who broke the rules of behavior were to be killed by communal punishments.
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