Wednesday, March 03, 2010

From My Bookshelf

For good or bad, hurrahs or yawns, I am going to share my current reading material with you. Okay ... so not the material itself, but the titles, at least. At present, I have four books on the go. This isn't because I'm a voracious reader or terribly clever but just how it has worked out. If you are tempted to think me clever, let me assure you that there are times when I don't have any book on the go, a fact of which I am not terribly proud.

I begin with the most recent title to join the fray: The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey Out of Africa. As I have recently posted, I have had my DNA tested for ancestry, and while the results were pretty general, it remains a topic which interests me. I have previously read two book on this topic (i.e. trying to determine human ancestry and migrations through DNA) and thought to try another.

I'm afraid that The Real Eve by Stephen Oppenheimer is a toughie. To me, it seems more like a university text or at least meant for someone who already has some rudimentary knowledge of the DNA heredity trail. I am finding it interesting enough, but it's dry, heavy and lengthy, and since it's only on a three week loan from the library, I suspect that I will not finish it. It's certainly more detailed than the other books that I have read, but it's academic style makes it a bit hard for me just to pick up and read for pleasure. Last night when I was reading about the times and routes that modern humans used to exit Africa, I got a little lost by the author describing various theories that don't seem to be popular any more. For me, I wish that he would just get to the good stuff sans filler. Never the less, the subject interests me, and I will read on to some extent at least.

Note: I have just discovered that a documentary was made form this title. I presume that I would find that quite interesting, likely being easier to follow.

When I think about Christianity, Jesus and how we got to believe what we do, I am fascinated. While recently reading yet another book on the topic, the author referenced The Jesus Dynasty by James D Tabor. I obtained a copy and had read most of it before I put it aside in favour of the next title, but that doesn't diminish what I think of The Jesus Dynasty, which is one scholar's attempt to try to figure out the actual life of Christ from the scanty knowledge that we have. Tabor has frequently visited the Near East in his archaeological work and brings a unique perspective to the Jesus era.

I didn't stop reading the book because I was tired of it although I do find that many non-fiction, academic (even if written for the ordinary human) works tend to peter out for me before I get to the end. It's as if I have already gotten what the author has to say, but he or she still goes on to continue to make his or her point. As with most books that I read of this nature, the thesis does not really fit into orthodox doctrine, so it isn't for everyone.

I left reading The Jesus Dynasty because Rex Weyler's, The Jesus Sayings piqued my curiosity just a little more. I have recently found myself musing on what I consider to be a tremendous irony of the Christian movement as it emerged and as we know it, so I was eager to get into this particular volume. For me, the irony is that Christianity for the most part has very little interest in knowing or following the teachings of Jesus (only my opinion, folks). The church has been delighted to view Jesus as God and saviour but has seemed disinterested in his actual teachings: turn the other cheek, for example.

So, what did Jesus really teach? Weyler has done a lot of thorough and painstaking study to try to get to the core of his message: the core that most scholars accept as authentic rather than being later add-ons by various scribes over at least several centuries. I may get back to this topic at some point, and at least go so far as to post about this core message, but I am still perplexed about the church's lack of concern to find and follow the teachings of it's title figure (once again — my viewpoint). Actually, I am not all that perplexed as I think I understand it, but I still find it highly ironic.

Truth be told, I am no longer reading The Stabbing in the Stables pictured to the left but have finished it and just begun to move on to Brett's next Fethering Mystery, The Poisoning in the Pub, his most recent novel, the tenth, in this series. I happened to stumble upon this author and series in the library racks, and although I had never heard of it, I was keen to try yet another British mystery series, and I have found the series quite good. It's less intricate than some series, but I have still enjoyed reading the Fethering Mysteries featuring two single, fiftyish women of divergent personalities. They happen to be neighbours and are forever tripping over bodies and trying to solve cases that seem to baffle the police.

These two titles that I have just mentioned recently arrived by request at the library along with another British mystery and the Eve volume mentioned above, all to be read within three weeks. I guess I'd better get cracking. Since I own The Jesus Dynasty and The Jesus Sayings and they aren't going to run away, I have put these library books at the top of the list ... er, front of the shelf.

And that, dear folks, is more than you ever wanted to know about what I am reading these days and most of what I am doing whilst not changing diapers.


thailandchani said...

I would like to read "The Jesus Sayings". The previous book, The Jesus Dynasty, looks familiar for some reason. Perhaps I have it here.


Donna said...

Ok, Stabbing in the Stables looks like my kind of fare! Never heard of the series! Thanks!
AND! Ac! The Easter Bunny delivered all of humanity!!! I thought you Knew that?!!Hahaaa...
You're a "brave" reader...

Lorna said...

simon Brett, I think, wrote some murders about the theatre. I seem to remember having a mild passion for his books for a while. Your opinion on the official religions and the teachings of Jesus is one I share, especially where compassion on the part of the religious organization is concerned. Please write a post if you ever feel you've solved the puzzle.

KGMom said...

I take it The Real Eve is about "mitochondrial Eve" of whom I read an article a couple of years back. Fascinating stuff.

I had not heard of your two "Jesus" books--I have read Misquoting Jesus, which may be along some of the same lines.

Good reading choices.

Mary G said...

Thanks for the tips - love British mysteries and anthropology. And no apology for finding academic writing dry. It is! I used to edit PhD theses for a living and the dessert would not be worse - one needs the oasis of a good mystery.

Mary G said...

Woops! desert! Talk about editing.

Bernie said...

Don't know how you do it A/C, I cannot go onto another book until I finish the one I am reading. I have a book on the go all the time, in fact I am Chapter's best customer......:-) Hugs

Ruth said...

Interesting titles. I agree with your statement,"Christianity for the most part has very little interest in knowing or following the teachings of Jesus."
Maybe I will catch up on reading when I retire.