March 30th

God: A Biography by Jack Miles

I should have liked this book. I mean, what’s not to like — a scholarly take on religion, early developments of God’s worship in Judaism (and by extension in Christianity), an intellectual, historical and social criticism of the idea of a development of the biblical God. Written with erudition and academic depth and yet an easy flowing read (by very competent author).

But I didn’t.

I read a lot of books abut religions, well — mostly about Christianity. And since my favorite subject is early Christianity I also read about Judaism as presented in the Old Testament. It might seem unusual since I am a rabid atheist but hear me out: I believe that to be able to criticize a given religion I need to know a lot about history and development and controversies and inconsistencies of that religion. And the period around 30 CE to 400 CE is absolutely fantastic from purely historical standpoint and as primer for understanding of development of Western Civilization as well (like or not, Christianity is THE foundation of Western Civilization).

But I didn’t like that book. I gave up after 100 pages. Why? I realized that I am bored reading Jack Miles’ take on that subject. Why? I realized that I already know that subject (a development of the idea of a monotheistic God, who wields all-encompassing power over a particular group of people) very well. There is nothing new in that book, no new historical or theological or sociological ideas that can keep up my interest. A fascinating development — I guess all that reading on that subject paid off. Now I can be a lot more selective about books to read on that topic in the future. I quite like the feeling of an expert-like. That’s another new and pleasant thing I discovered about myself recently.

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