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A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization

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  • Posted August 23, 2011

    NON-OFFENSIVE READ

    Is A History of the End of the World an expedient critique or a sarcastic attempt to highlight the Christian delusions in the Book of Revelation? While Jonathan Kirsch's treaty is well structured and placed in the context of the Book of Daniel, it provides nothing new or illuminating.

    It is an easy and non-offensive read in a sermon style, so much so that I perceive it as ignorant and arrogant. It is strikingly brilliant how the author lists truly offensive passages and analysis as if they would not have had a catastrophic impact on human development through millennia. For example:

    "If John is seeking to scare his readers and hearers into shunning their pagan friends, neighbors, and kinfolk, the demonization of Roman coinage?and the condemnation of the 'cargo' that it could buy?was a clever psychological tool. After all, Christian true believers could congratulate themselves on their own poverty, whether self-imposed or not, by reminding themselves that participating in pagan commerce was equivalent to bargaining with the Devil. They are encouraged by the book of Revelation to console themselves with dreams of the day when God will punish the collaborators who took the Devil's coin. And revenge, as we shall see, is among the core values of Revelation."

    As an author that focuses on social economics of poverty, I am alarmed at what level Kirsch seems to be desensitized or contempt to a wording that has, according to the writer, clearly Jewish origins. There is no compassion for and no relation to billions that live in (Jewish) religion induced poverty today and through the ages. A mere statement of the intolerable makes it seem as the author welcomes the consequences of the Jewish follies (or at least not condemns it). Glorification of poverty by Christians (and Muslims, both guided by Judaic scriptures) seems to me offensive in itself. It merited the mentioning of a strong connection between ongoing humanitarian disasters and teachings that should have been rooted out on inception as crimes against humanity. Instead, Kirsch seems to like the teachings of the New Testament where quite obviously (the Roman) civilization is rejected.

    The author repeatedly refers to the possibility that numerous writers thought the Book of Revelation should not have been included in the New Testament, Luther among them. The point is: the discussion about its potential elimination is in vain. Christians cannot pick and choose from the "prophetic" stock of Judaic writings. They believe or they don't. They half believe in what the New Testament says? A History of the End is selective reading at its best, and that is also the main shortcoming of the book. In other words, while the author rejects the Book of Revelation, he obviously embraces the rest and seeks out an expedient version of history and context.

    There seems to be no critical thought as to a possible placement in time of the Revelation, despite illuminating every possible angle of its authorship. The first century is a done deal. However, "prophesies" arose from necessity in a slow moving context of either sectarian conflicts or clashes with the authorities. More importantly, they were written AFTER a disaster. Given that the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century and six thousand Jews were crucified (not Christians), one could be content with this marking the end of the world (for the Jews.
    If you would like to read more on this subject, look up the book Great Le

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 5, 2011

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