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Bios & Memoirs > Religious Figures

Religious Figures

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Tad Davis

Tad Davis Philadelphia, PA USA Member Since 2005
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  • "Thoughtful"

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    I'm not a believer, but I remain interested in and sympathetic toward Christianity. John Dickson's thoughtful analysis - a "biography from a believer," to use a phrase associated with another recent biography of Jesus - didn't change my mind about theological matters. But he does write gently and persuasively on the subject and is obviously well-versed in current research on the history of first-century Palestine. If someone WERE able to change my mind, it would be someone like him.

    This is, in short, an excellent review of the historical Jesus from a frankly Christian perspective. Committed Christians who have been wary of stepping into these waters should give the book a try: they will come away with a stronger sense of the historical and theological underpinnings of their faith. Those who are outside the fold, like me, should give the book a listen as well, if only to see that it's possible to have a calm and reasoned discussion of the issues.

    I was partly interested because Simon Vance is the narrator, and he always does a superb job with this kind of book. His voice is clear, steady, well-paced, and consistently interesting.

    More

    Life of Jesus: Who He Is and Why He Matters

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By John Dickson
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    (3)
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    (3)
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    (3)

    What really happened back in the first century, in Jerusalem and around the Sea of Galilee, that changed the shape of world history? Who is this figure that emerges from history to have a profound impact on culture, ethics, politics, and philosophy? Join historian John Dickson on this journey through the life of Jesus.

    Tad Davis says: "Thoughtful"
  • "Vivid and well-researched"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Reza Aslan has tackled a big project in this book: not just a biography of Jesus, but also a recreation of life in first-century Palestine, combining anecdotal evidence from the New Testament and other writings with the latest evidence from archaeological and sociological investigations. For the most part he succeeds brilliantly. It's one of the most vivid books on this subject I've read in nearly 40 years of study.

    I might not feel so positively toward it if his take on Jesus was too far removed from my own. But it isn't. Aslan leans toward the Bart Ehrmann school of thought rather than the NT Wright or Jesus Seminar approach. His Jesus is an apocalyptic prophet who goes to Jerusalem with every expectation that God will intervene in history in a spectacular and visible way; but the Kingdom of God that he's spent a couple of years preaching and predicting (and possibly much of his life preparing for) fails to materialize.

    This is not to say his take on Jesus is one of complete skepticism. More rationalist / humanist readers may be surprised at the weight he gives to the miracles of Jesus. Here he seems to most closely reflect the views of John P Meier, who points out that the standard historical criteria for New Testament research - the criteria of multiple sources, dissimilarity, and the like - when applied to the question of Jesus' miracles, lead to the conclusion that he was, in fact, a "doer of mighty deeds" - or at least that the people who knew him, friends and enemies alike, never questioned that he was a healer, exorcist, and wonder-worker.

    The same is true of Aslan's discussion of the resurrection. There are no eyewitness accounts and no physical or archaeological evidence for the resurrection, and so it can't be evaluated by historical methods; but it's clear that "something happened." Of all the people who proclaimed themselves Messiah during this period - and Aslan gives a great deal of attention to the other messianic figures - Jesus is the only one whose followers remained devoted to him, who continued to proclaim his messiahship (and later his divinity) long after the crucifixion.

    Aslan describes three types of messiahs that appear in Jewish literature leading up the the time of Jesus. The most obvious one is the kingly messiah, the descendant of David who would restore the twelve tribes of Israel; but there were also messiahs-as-liberators like Moses, and messiahs-as-prophets like Elijah. He evaluates the evidence for and against and suggests that, even though he was reluctant to proclaim it openly, Jesus thought of himself as the kingly Messiah. His choice of twelve disciples to "rule the twelve tribes of Israel" is only one piece of evidence to that end. There is also his many references to himself as "the Son of Man," which Aslan connects to the kingly figure depicted in the book of Daniel.

    Aslan also gives remarkably full coverage of the early church, up to the time of the writing of the Gospels. Peter is here, as is James, the brother of Jesus, and Paul: and in the controversy that plagued the relationship of James and Paul, it probably comes as no surprise that Aslan believes James was closer to what Jesus actually proclaimed. One of the big problems of the early church, as Aslan describes it, is explaining how, if Jesus was crucified, he could have been the kingly Messiah he thought of himself as being. Aslan's conclusion, like that of many mainstream scholars, is that the disciples resolved the problem by redefining the Messiah as a suffering servant who would one day return in glory to judge the living and the dead. It can be defended with reference to different parts of scripture, but it doesn't reflect any concept of the Messiah that preceded the crucifixion of Jesus.

    Aslan narrates the book himself. I'm not a great fan of self-narrated audio books, and there are times when I think he emphasizes the wrong word in his own sentence; but he is an enthusiastic reader who carries the narrative momentum forward with clarity.

    I recommend the book highly. I've already listened to it twice (the second time, granted, at double-speed for the sake of review), and I plan to listen to it many timesa in the future.

    More

    Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Reza Aslan
    • Narrated By Reza Aslan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1325)
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    (1191)
    Story
    (1182)

    From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor.

    Charles says: "Palastinian Politics 4 B.C.E. - 70 C.E."
  1. Life of Jesus: Who He Is ...
  2. Zealot: The Life and Time...
  3. .

A Peek at CAROLINE's Bookshelf

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CAROLINE's greatest hits:
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    "Marvelous !"

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    I have read a lot of books about the Borgias, and of all those on my bookshelf (actual volumes on the shelf, as well as audiobooks) this is far and away my favorite. I loved the author's approach, which for one thing takes the reader back to the very FIRST Borgia Pope (and here I didn't even realize that there WAS any other Borgia Pope than Rodrigo), and fills in all the lacunae which other authors have ignored. I found every detail fascinating because I really want to understand the events in Italy of this time period, and the details are what create a rich picture of the times for those of us who are looking back 1500 years. I also cannot imagine a more wonderful narrator for this book. He carried me along with him on this fascinating journey with his rich, mellifluous tones, and that was truly the icing on the cake, great marriage of narrator with material. If you are interested in the history of early Renaissance Italy, you should love this book !

Robert

Robert Coatesville, IN, United States 03-14-14 Member Since 2006
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  • "A book that will change your life..."

    1 of 1 helpful votes
    Would you listen to Black Elk Speaks again? Why?

    This is a book that I will be relistening to and rereading over and over again the rest of my life. It is so full of fascinating detail about another culture, spiritual insight and wisdom that I will get more out of it every time I listen to it.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The spirituality of the hoop of the world. The ending when Neihardt takes Black Elk up Harney Peak one last night.


    Which character – as performed by Robin Neihardt – was your favorite?

    Black Elk


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. It is easy to listen to RobinNeihardt's voice so the fascinating book comes through well.


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    DiK says: "Requires a Belief in Mysticism"

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    Widely hailed as a spiritual classic, this inspirational and unfailingly powerful story reveals the life and visions of the Lakota healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and the tragic history of his Sioux people during the epic closing decades of the Old West. In 1930, the aging Black Elk met a kindred spirit, the famed poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

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    Though renowned for his superb Torah scholarship, the Tzemach Tzedek`s first and foremost role was that of a leader serving during a particularly trying time in our history. This fascinating collection of stories and anecdotes, now available in English, vividly depicts the Rebbe`s tremendous impact on all facets of Jewish religious life, and the particular attention given to the most humble and downtrodden.

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    The Story of a Soul is the autobiography of Thérèse of Lisieux. It was first published on September 30, 1898, a year to the day after her death from tuberculosis at the age of 24, on September 30, 1897. The book was a single volume formed from three distinct manuscripts - manuscripts of different length, written at different times, addressed to different people, and differing from one another in character. The work of unifying these disparate manuscripts was carried out by Pauline, the sister of Thérèse.

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    While St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most beloved saints in history, the relevancy of St. Francis for our times in light of the election of Pope Francis has yet to be explored. This book is written with the intention of filling that gap. While it is biographical in nature, it also freely explores themes that relate to St. Francis but are not a part of his life.

  • Letting Go: The Story of Zen Master Tosui (






UNABRIDGED) by Peter Haskel Narrated by JB Thomas

    Letting Go: The Story of Zen Master Tosui

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Peter Haskel
    • Narrated By JB Thomas
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    The Tribute is translated here for the first time. Peter Haskel's introduction places Tosui in the context of the Japanese Zen of his period - a time when the identities of early modern Zen schools were still being formed and a period of spiritual crisis for many distinguished monks who believed that the authentic Zen transmission had long ceased to exist. Abiographical addendum offers a detailed overview of Tosui's life in light of surviving premodern sources.

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  • Jonestown:

    Jonestown: "Don't Drink the Kool-Aid": The Complete Story Behind the Mysterious Jim Jones & His Exodus to Guyana

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Will Savive
    • Narrated By Mark Moseley
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    The life and death of Jim Jones and his followers in Jonestown still mystifies people to this day. "Drinking the Kool-Aid" became a famous metaphor for holding an unquestioned belief without critical examination. But was there a far more sinister play at hand than the official story revealed? This audiobook is a complete history of Jim Jones and People's Temple, with further analysis on what might have been the real cause of this tragedy.

  • The Life and Times of Jesus: The Messiah Behind Enemy Lines (






UNABRIDGED) by Michael J. Ruszala, Wyatt North Narrated by David Glass

    The Life and Times of Jesus: The Messiah Behind Enemy Lines

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Michael J. Ruszala, Wyatt North
    • Narrated By David Glass
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    Jesus was a Messiah behind enemy lines - God come into a sinful world ruled by evil. He was on a secret mission to save humanity. To Jesus' first-century Jewish contemporaries, whatever the Nazarene might be, he was not simply "another good rabbi". Jesus was a polarizing figure. One believed either that this powerful preacher and wonderworker was uniquely of God, or that he was an agent of the Evil One.

  • Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man (






UNABRIDGED) by David Frost Narrated by Jon Gauger, Kelly Ryan Dolan

    Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By David Frost
    • Narrated By Jon Gauger, Kelly Ryan Dolan
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    An inside look at the heart of Billy Graham. For 30 years, Billy Graham and David Frost fascinated television audiences with their conversations about God, the Bible, and Graham's decades-long ministry. Frost asked the questions that thousands of viewers wanted to ask. Graham answered them with authenticity and grace. With engaging honesty, Graham tells stories of his earliest crusades, his involvement in the civil rights movement, and his role as spiritual mentor to several American presidents.