I’m sure Hitchens would have had something to say about the events of this past week, regarding free speech. In Spain, police arrested street puppeteers for performances thought to be threate…
Monthly Archives: February 2016
WOW, if Christopher Hitchens were alive to see this…
I’ve been a great fan of Anne Rice ever since I first found an already well worn copy of The Vampire Lestat in a pawn shop almost 30 years ago. Despite being an atheist, I still very much enjoy reading about religion and I approached Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt in the same way as any other book, and with an even greater anticipation because of my experience with it’s author.
The first thing I would say is that an Anne Rice interpretation of the bible would be way more entertaining and probably even more believable than what we have available in current form. Her story of Jesus as a child draws from a multitude of sources, both recognized and shunned, she credits a list of authors and scholars whose work it seems it would take a life time to read properly. The results speak for themselves in the pages of this book. The scenes are totally believable, the stories retell the biblical telling of Jesus’ birth and go beyond that to what the people around him thought, how they acted, how they would have had to deal with things they couldn’t understand or in some instances didn’t wish to even acknowledge. The author is incredible at becoming the voice of an 8 year old Jewish boy who lived 2000 years ago. Not one thought seems out of place. You never once question what is being said or think, “that’s not right, no one would have said or done that”. Rice is known for her detail to historical accuracy which she admits she wrestled with in this book as there are so many differing opinions on the subject, who is to say what is accurate and what is not?
I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars, not because there was any failing in the writing, every thing was clear, easy to understand, enjoyable to read. I gave it 4 out of 5 because, as good as it is, I still believe it is based on a fallacy, an unprovable assertion. Rice believes that the gospel stories of the bible are not authored as late as scholars say they are. She believes they were written before the Jewish war and for that reason there is no mention of the war in them. Being authored earlier than generally accepted would also lend a new insight when one considers the prophesies being fulfilled. Being written after the fact is easy, being written before is not so easily explained away. Though it is possible, I think it unlikely that Rice is correct here on the time period the gospels were written when placed against the decades of combined research into their authorship (I use decades as what I think to be an extremely conservative estimate).
The other point I would make goes to Anne Rice’s driving question or force behind the writing of this book. She wanted to answer the question as to how Christianity came to be the powerful, dominating force it has become in the world today. This she puts down to one “truth”. The resurrection of Christ. Nothing else could have given the disciples the drive to carry Christianity out into the world and have it become the force it is now.
The problem with this is that even if Jesus existed, died and came back to life, none of that proves that he was divine or sent from god. You may say, “if that is not enough proof then what else will do?” Even if I give you that, concede what an extraordinary set of circumstances his death and resurrection would be if they happened, I had another, more pressing and immediate question jump to the forefront of my mind after reading Rice’s reason for the survival of Christianity. What about Islam? If Christianity was the only major religion in the world, maybe one could look at it in a different light and say, “well it’s the only religion to have that number of adherents, so, yes it must be true”. There are 2.2 billion Christians in the world today but there are 1.6 Muslims. How do you account for that? Surely if the resurrection of Christ accounts for the number of Christians, something equally as valid and true must account for the number of Muslims. Yet, Muslims believe that Jesus was not the messiah but only a prophet and that the Christians have misinterpreted his teachings and got the story wrong. They can’t both be right. But they both could be wrong. It lowered my admiration for the author, just a little to think that she could overlook something so simple, though I’m sure she has thought of this and has some version of Christian apologetics to account for it. It’s comforting to know that after going back to the Catholic church after a long time away, the author split with it again in 2010, still affirming her commitment to Christ but not to Christianity or the church, the “last straw” being the church’s opposition to same sex marriage and the lengths it was willing to go to to prevent it.
Setting all this aside, it’s still a wonderful book and I can’t wait to read the second one in the series, and any book by Anne Rice is sure to leave you unsatisfied in the sense that you can never get enough of her.