Bible & Christianity


I do enjoy it when one of these pitched academic battles bubbles up from arcane scholarship to the media surface.

In the new Jan 26/09 edition of The Nation, Anthony Grafton’s review of a 2008 academic-press volume—Morton Smith and Gershom Scholem: Correspondence, 1945-1982, by Guy G. Stroumsa, ed.—takes one more crack at the gay-Jesus/Secret Mark controversy, but with rather tentative conclusions:

I believe that Smith really found his letter, and that Scholem gave him the framework into which he inserted it. But that’s just what I think. Many will disagree. This time, the professor is the Cheshire cat. He smiles and is gone.

[read the review]

For one academic insider’s view of this story, check out these postings on Secret Mark, from Apocryphicity.

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Dateline: Sussex, England—Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vicar has ‘horrifying’ statue of crucifixion removed from church
Resin sculpture that ‘scared children and deterred worshippers’ to be replaced by steel cross

[IM thread from this morning:]

ajh: there’s something profound in that, but I am writing code so can’t articulate it. it gets my conservative hackles all up, though.

me: it’s the Photoshop century.

ajh: awesome. gotta wonder how many of those kids were on their way back from Batman Begins, though.

maybe if Batman was on the cross it would be OK!

me: he died for George Clooney’s sins, and then came back from the dead for another round of profitable sequels.

ajh: or was it Val Kilmer? I always get these creation stories mixed up…

This little nugget was published by the Wall Street Journal just in time for Christmas on December 23, but just came to my attention today (I guess I’m getting this in under the gun on the 12th day of Christmas):

“Prophet Sharing: The Good Book Is the Best Seller”

My attention was especially attracted by this ‘graph:

It’s an astonishing fact that year after year, the Bible is the best-selling book in America—even though 90% of households already have at least one copy. The text doesn’t vary, except in translation. The tremendous sales volume, an estimated 25 million copies sold each year, is largely driven by innovations in design, color, style and the ultimate niche marketing.

According to this Wikipedia article, in all-time global sales, the Bible looks pretty far ahead of any competition, with estimates ranging from 2.5 to 6 billion copies sold.  The only other book even in its league is Mao’s Little Red Book.