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We feel that these books should be of interest to everyone:

  • Those who follow a conservative religious belief system should find the books helpful when proselytizing. It is important to know what Christians from other faith traditions, religious liberals, and secularists believe and -- above all -- why they believe it.

  • Agnostics, Atheists, and other secularists should find the books helpful because they may increase their understanding of their own beliefs, and those of various organized religious traditions.

  • Everyone may benefit from these books because they combat with reason the high levels of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, hatred and mistrust of Atheists, general pervasive and entrenched religious intolerance, etc. in the North American culture and the rest of the world.

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Previous months' recommendations

Current month's selection

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2015-January's selection

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Philip C. Almond: "The devil: a new biography"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
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22.19 plus postage in Paperback. Available in Kindle format for $14.20.

Amazon.com book description:

"Although the Devil still 'lives' in modern popular culture, for the past 250 years he has become marginal to the dominant concerns of Western intellectual thought. That life could not be thought or imagined without him, that he was a part of the everyday, continually present in nature and history, and active at the depths of our selves, has been all but forgotten. It is the aim of this work to bring modern readers to a deeper appreciation of how, from the early centuries of the Christian period through to the recent beginnings of the modern world, the human story could not be told and human life could not be lived apart from the ‘life’ of the Devil. With that comes the deeper recognition that, for the better part of the last two thousand years, the battle between good and evil in the hearts and minds of men and women was but the reflection of a cosmic battle between God and Satan, the divine and the diabolic, that was at the heart of history itself."—from The Devil

Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub; Ha-Satan or the Adversary; Iblis or Shaitan: no matter what name he travels under, the Devil has throughout the ages and across civilizations been a compelling and charismatic presence. In Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the supposed reign of God has long been challenged by the fiery malice of his opponent, as contending forces of good and evil have between them weighed human souls in the balance.

In The Devil, Philip C. Almond explores the figure of evil incarnate from the first centuries of the Christian era. Along the way, he describes the rise of demonology as an intellectual and theological pursuit, the persecution as witches of women believed to consort with the Devil and his minions, and the decline in the belief in Hell and in angels and demons as corporeal beings as a result of the Enlightenment. Almond shows that the Prince of Darkness remains an irresistible subject in history, religion, art, literature, and culture.

Almond brilliantly locates the “life” of the Devil within the broader Christian story of which it is inextricably a part; the “demonic paradox” of the Devil as both God’s enforcer and his enemy is at the heart of Christianity. Woven throughout the account of the Christian history of the Devil is another complex and complicated history: that of the idea of the Devil in Western thought. Sorcery, witchcraft, possession, even melancholy, have all been laid at the Devil’s doorstep. Until the Enlightenment enforced a “disenchantment” with the old archetypes, even rational figures such as Thomas Aquinas were obsessed with the nature of the Devil and the specific characteristics of the orders of demons and angels. It was a significant moment both in the history of demonology and in theology when Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677) denied the Devil’s existence; almost four hundred years later, popular fascination with the idea of the Devil has not yet dimmed.

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2015-February's selection

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Avigdor Shinan and Valerie Zakovitch: "From Gods to God: How the Bible Debunked, Suppressed, or Changed Ancient Myths and Legends"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
20.93 plus postage in Paperback. Available in Kindle format for $15.23.

Amazon.com book description:

"The ancient Israelites believed things that the writers of the Bible wanted them to forget: myths and legends from a pre-biblical world that the new monotheist order needed to bury, hide, or reinterpret.

Ancient Israel was rich in such literary traditions before the Bible reached the final form that we have today. These traditions were not lost but continued, passed down through the ages. Many managed to reach us in post-biblical sources: rabbinic literature, Jewish Hellenistic writings, the writings of the Dead Sea sect, the Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and other ancient translations of the Bible, and even outside the ancient Jewish world in Christian and Islamic texts. The Bible itself sometimes alludes to these traditions, often in surprising contexts.

Written in clear and accessible language, this volume presents thirty such traditions. It voyages behind the veil of the written Bible to reconstruct what was told and retold among the ancient Israelites, even if it is “not what the Bible tells us."

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2015-March's selection

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Robert M. Price: "The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul"

Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
$
20.90 plus postage in Paperback. Available in Kindle format for $9.24.

Amazon.com book description:

"The story of Paul is one of irony, the New Testament depicting him at the martyrdom of Stephen holding the assassins' cloaks. Then this same Paul is transformed into the biblical archetype for someone suffering for their faith. He becomes so entrenched, it would appear that he had walked with the Christians all his life, that he was the one who defined the faith, eventually being called the “second founder of Christianity.” But much of what we think we "know" about Paul comes from Sunday school stories we heard as children. The stories were didactic tales meant to keep us reverent and obedient.

As adults reading the New Testament, we catch glimpses of a very different kind of disciple—a wild ascetic whom Tertullian dubbed “the second apostle of Marcion and the apostle of the heretics.” What does scholarship tell us about the enigmatic thirteenth apostle who looms larger than life in the New Testament? The epistles give evidence of having been written at the end of the first century or early in the second—too late to have been Paul’s actual writings. So who wrote (and rewrote) them? F. C. Baur, a nineteenth-century theologian, pointed persuasively to Simon Magus as the secret identity of “Paul.” Robert M. Price, in this exciting journey of discovery, gives readers the background for a story we thought we knew."

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Originally written: 2008-MAR-16
Latest update and review: 2014-NOV-01
Assembled by: B.A. Robinson

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