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The Fixer
Bernard Malamud, Jonathan Safran Foer
The Wayward Bus
John Steinbeck

Holy Blood, Holy Grail

Holy Blood, Holy Grail - Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln 2.5 stars. it was a long 300 pages of foundation building to get to what i thought was the most interesting stuff. i liked the authors' explanation in the introduction the admittedly gives them a bit of leeway in their position, about how of course any time you're talking about something that happened 2000 years ago you're going to have to make some assumptions. (see below as it's worth quoting.) like starbird's book the woman and the alabaster jar, i find most of the main claims to be completely plausible - that jesus was actually "just" a man, that he was born the way we're all born, that he was sexually active, that he married mary magdalen, that they had at least 1 child, that there is therefore a bloodline that exists today that could be traced back to jesus. to me, a nonchristian, none of this seems hard to believe, or even that it should matter to the church - except for the fact that there would be a coverup or a number of lies to explain. the other ideas (or main idea) postulated seems to have less to back it up, and more religious reason to dismiss it, and therefore is a little harder to believe, even for someone who is not steeped in christian theology or a christian upbringing. still, the possibility that jesus did not die on the cross (which, with their step by step explanation, even using the gospels -!-, of how this could happen isn't nearly as far fetched as it first sounds) and was squirreled away to safety with or without mary magdalen and lazarus and martha (?) and maybe a couple of others who went to france or was replaced by someone else (probably simon of cyrene or simon something) on the cross and therefore wasn't crucified at all is intriguing and not outside the realm of possibilities, although is something even i dismissed out of hand when hearing this statement without any of the historical basis for it. the former of these possibilities was better supported in the book, but it seems that the authors likely believe in the latter (especially based on later published works). along the way they also cite any number of other historians and their postulations and (usually) agreement with the assessment the authors make. still, knowing these aren't the only 3 people in the world to see the historical record this way lends them credibility, in my mind.anyway, the beginning of this was interesting, then it got a bit tedious as it went through the detailed info of secret society information and generational info (a little, i thought, like the begat info in the bible) but once it got to the gospels and religious historical information i thought it was quite interesting. both in the information and in how you have to go about doing research and making assumptions and some leaps when the historical record is so incomplete.what the authors say about it:"We had propounded a hypothesis, and hypotheses must necessarily rest on speculation. The sheer scarcity of reliable information on biblical matters obliges any researcher of the subject to speculate, if he is not to remain mute. Granted, one must not speculate wildly; one must confine one's speculation to the framework of known historical information. Within this framework, though, one has no choice but to speculate - to interpret the meager and often opaque evidence that exists. All biblical scholarship entails speculation, as does theology. The Gospels are sketchy, ambiguous, and often contradictory documents. People have argued, have even waged wars throughout the course of the last two thousand years about what particular passages might mean. In the coalescence of Christian tradition there is one principle that has continually obtained: In the past, when certain historic individuals were confronted with any of the varied biblical ambiguities, they speculated about it's meaning. Their conclusions, when accepted, were enshrined as dogma and came to be regarded over the centuries - quite erroneously - as established fact. Such conclusions, however, are not fact at all. On the contrary they are speculation and interpretation congealed into a tradition, and it is this tradition that is constantly mistaken for fact."