Worth Reading (Fiction)

  • Mamet, David: Chicago: A Novel
    In Roaring 20's Chicago, a Great War veteran turned hard-boiled reporter falls in love with the wrong woman and then seeks to find her killer.
  • Nelson DeMille: The Cuban Affair: A Novel
    Two million dollars to charter a boat for a fishing tournament? A great way for the owner to pay off the boat's mortgage, but it turns out to include slipping into Castro's prison island in search of a lost (and perhaps imaginary) treasure.
  • Kate Atkinson: Life After Life: A Novel
    Ursula Todd has the opportunity to relive her life, over and over and over, moving steadily through the Great War and its sequels and accumulating shards of memory.
  • Connie Willis: Crosstalk: A Novel
    An empathy app leads to complications involving telepathy, Irish women and a true love that runs most unsmoothly. Classic Willis comedy.
  • Mark Steyn: The Prisoner of Windsor
    In a 21st Century sequel to Anthony Hope, the heir to the Ruritanian throne must fill in for the kidnaped Prime Minister of Great Britain.
  • Tim Powers: My Brother's Keeper
    Werewolves, the Brontë sisters, their wayward brother, their heroic dog and a conspiracy to unleash an almost dead deity.
  • Tim Powers: Declare: A Novel
    An intricate Cold War fantasy that seems so plausible that one wonders whether it is the true story of why the Soviet Union rose and collapsed.
  • H.F.M. Prescott: The Man on a Donkey
    Set during the Pilgrimage of Grace, this is the rare historical novel that captures the mindset of the actors. The hero, Robert Aske, was martyred in a way that makes burning at the stake look merciful.
  • Theodore Odrach: Wave of Terror
    Based on the author's experiences when the Soviet Union occupied his homeland after the Stalin-Hitler Pact, this book melds Chekov and Solzhenitsyn. By stages, the isolated folk of the Pripyet Marshes learn that there are worse masters than their former Polish overlords.
  • Simon Montefiore: Sashenka: A Novel
    Both grim and funny, this historical novel peers into the inner world of an upper class Russian girl turned loyal Bolshevik, highlighting her youthful fling at revolution-making in Petrograd, her fall from grace under Stalin, and an historian's effort, after the end of communism, to ascertain her fate.
  • Harry Turtledove: The Man with the Iron Heart
    Can the U.S. maintain its resolve against a defeated enemy's terrorist campaign? Imagining a post-World War II Nazi insurgency, Harry Turtledove puts this question into a new context. As Reinhard von Heydrich's "werewolves" devastate Germany, war-weary Americans call for withdrawal, regardless of the consequences.
  • Neal Stephenson: Anathem
    If you have not a smidgen of interest in how Platonic philosophy relates to the "many worlds" version of quantum mechanics, you still may like this novel, though you'll probably wish that the characters talked less. Persevere. After a slow start, the story grows compelling, and the intellectual dialogues turn out not to be digressions.
  • Alfred Duggan: Lord Geoffrey's Fancy
    Perhaps the finest book of one of England's finest historical novelists. The setting is 13th Century Greece, where Crusaders fought each other and the shattered Byzantine Empire. The history is accurate, the writing graceful and the characters not merely modern people in fancy dress.
  • Rodney Bolt: History Play : The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe
    A pseudo-history springing from the premise that Shakespeare's flashy predecessor survived the famous Deptford brawl and fled to the continent, where he secretly wrote almost all of the Bard's works. A clever, tongue-in-cheek reworking of literary history that also recreates the milieu shared by many real Elizabethan exiles.
  • Charles W. Chesnutt: Stories, Novels, and Essays (Library of America, 131)
    Fiction and essays by a black American writer who deserves a wider audience.
  • Harry Turtledove: Gunpowder Empire
    Debut of a juvenile series set in parallel worlds. 22nd century teen siblings, trapped without adult aid in a besieged city, must cope with the bizarre (to them) customs and prejudices of a never-fallen Roman Empire.
Blog powered by Typepad

« Last Gasp Saddamites | Main | A Candidate Who CAIRs »

Sunday, July 11, 2004


the most interesting point you make is that this work is wild while the other accepted works are conservative and relatively bland in comparison. This does not convince me of its illegitimacy, but rather, the opposite, my experience with eyewitness accounts are that they are full of improbables and discrepancies and such...it is the sanitized and propagandized versions of these stories which actually lack veracity and are written with the view not of enlightening, but creating conformity and ensuring control.THATS why they are bland in comparison, theyve been whitewashed.


Interesting discussion!

For more information about Judas, take a look at:



i got one question to all. why does church got such hatred towards judas to think the church is the number one advocator of predestination that everything is in god's will and if it weren't for judas, no crucifixion would take place therefore what would become one of the main core of christianity, "jesus died, buried, and risen" to which we're all saved from our sins? and what had become of jesus' revolutionary teachings of loving ones' enemies and the concept of forgiveness if we are to eternally curse judas? it's not that im defending the gnostics (if the lost document is really a propaganda made by them), to be honest im not really interested if you could consider it as a gospel or not, but i think with the document's revelation, maybe it teaches us some rather new perspective in re-evaluating our faith. all of the gospels were merely 'hearsay' (if it were a written account of jesus himself, i would really appreciate it), but as for judas for example, he's a man, a sinner like most of us, and lots of people had done worst things than what he did, but i think we all have to exercise another great example of jesus' hardest lesson, learn and apply compassion and forgiveness. and what about predestination? well, i guess everything has a reason. although one cannot make it as an excuse, but usually, like to what i want to quote one who posted a comment before, "god works in mysterious ways"

HAHAHAHA! The more you rail against the old text, the more people will read it and think about it out of curiousity.

All the stories in the bible were ripped off from other cultures and older religions. The flood stories, the "Moses" stories, the "Eden" stories all existed in Mesopotamia, Egypt, northern Africa, and other areas long before Torah entertainers and storytellers decided to write them down. What's the big deal if there are dozens of differing legends about the myths regarding Jesus?

When you get right down to it, what does it matter if Judas betrayed The Christ of his own volition or because Jesus told him to do it. The point is that Jesus had to be put to death. Judas had to betray Jesus so the Crusifiction would happen. Judas was part of the story and we should not judge his actions. Why do we always require a scapegoat. I personally think the Gospel of Judas fits because Jesus had to insure that He would be put to death. As a lot of people say when they don't understand what's goin on, "The Lord works in mysterious ways".

I have just viewed the RBC produced special DVD debunking the Da Vinci code phenomenon. It was well scripted and documented but whether is was necessary is another matter etirely. By creating such attention only plays to the author's hands. Now, I am wondering if something similar will come out to defend the santity of the Holy Quartet. Life in the 21st century is becoming more dynamic everyday and the question has to be asked - should religious text remain immutable?

What is the truth? Is it possible that the only real truth is the search for truth itself?Simply beleiving a commonly accepted version of any reality does not make it true.It is possible that being so afraid to consider any alternative information regarding ones religious beliefs that you only impede any real spiritual growth.In the words of Jesus;In order that you be born again you must first make your mind over as a child.What is in a childs mind?Nothing.A child will remain curious of any new thing until at some point society,religion,christianity and other outside influences will likely force that curious mind to accept the common thought form and beliefs of the day in order to become more acceptable to that society.Who wants to be branded a heretic or a cult or new ager etc. for daring to think outside the box.Why does christianity impose such strict mental constraints on all of its followers.Is it so that the Jerry Falwells,John Haggees, Rod Parselys, Jim Bakers,Benny Hinns and the like can continue to live their lavish lifestyles of Rolex watches,$ 2000 suits,Multi-million dollar mansions,exotic vehicles and behind the scenes contradictory immorality while keeping the masses fooled into believing they have the truth.My studies of the bible and other historical research would lead me to conclude that christianity as we know it today is likely the complete opposite of what was intended by Jesus.I would also imply that were Jesus to retun today in our midst he would likely be denounced by the very ones proclaiming to know him so well.I find it remarkable that the word heresy is still used in the context of a defense for fear of ones religious beliefs being challenged.Is that not the word Christianity used to condem millions of peole to their deaths throughout the history of the church.It would appear to me that any real spiritual growth must have not made it past the dark ages.Scientists and scholars alike have not been able to conclude exact dates and times as to when any of the gospels were written or who wrote them or how long after Jesus died they were written.Based on that assumption ,all we have in reality is writings based on hearsay,not fact, including the gospel of Judas.I would think that Ireneaus's choice to include or exclude specific writings had huge political as well as personal and emotional motivations.Its possible that were a different individual chosen by the church to perform this selection we may have ended up with a whole different set of gospels than what we now have.And what if it were found at at a later date that Gnostics wrote Matthew,Mark,Luke and John.What a scarey thought for most.Does anyone have anything other than speculation,conjecture or unfounded conclusions to prove otherwise?It is possible that Irenaeus was nothing more than a Pediphile or sexual deviant appointed by the church to constuct a thought form for its followers that would allow the Christian leaders to remain hidden in their own immorality and maintane control over the herd at the same time.History has shown this to be a re-occuring scenario within the church and as we have seen with todays Priests,Cardinals and Bishops,it remains a reality.So which one of you theological experts can vouch for the credibility of this individual named Irenaeus? Have any of you met this man personally? Of course not.So how can anyone presume to know what was in this mans spirit at the time of his writings or for that matter, what the spiritual state was of the individual who wrote the book of Judas.
At one point or another in my life I have attempted to become deeply involved with Almost every religious sect in our american society to include Catholics, Baptists,Charismatics,Methodist,Nazarenes,Jehovas Witness ,Mormons etc.in search of spiritual truths.In all my personal Experience with all these groups that make up Christianity I have observed one common thread.All who participate are required to give up their own search for the truth and accept the herds preconcieved notion of reality and become an intellectual prostitute to someone elses interpretation of Biblical writings and reality itself.
Is there a Heaven or Hell? Ask any child what happens when they die or adult for that matter and they will all say they're going to heaven.Very few will say hell.Does anyone out there know this to be absolutely true? I haven't personally met anyone who has died and returned to confirm that.Nor have I found a dead person whom I can dicuss it with.Why do we teach our children these things when none of us really know for sure.Has the fear of death become so powerful to humanity that we should all give up our own unique,God given ability to think and use our brain to search for truth and understanding or should we just follow the herd because that is the safe and easy path.
In choosing to remain open minded and considering all possibilities that come to light,I feel I have gained a better spiritual understanding and may have become more like Jesus intended us to be in the process.Is it possible that allowing others to be in control of our own spiritual self is the greatest sin of all? The only True Gift we have is to choose what to think.Give that away and you have nothing.
If the blind lead the blind then they shall all fall into the pit.

Walt Aldridge

We must all realize that the factions controlling the documents copied at the time were both religious and political. The allowed / agreed to text that make up the bible that we know today has been revised a number of times. These coptic texts were not allowed to become part of the bible because they did not support the beliefs of the person or persons (factions) in power at the time.
The Nag Hammadi library is a great example of Gnostic thought and recommended reading. Remember we are reading a new testament that is the "KING JAMES" Version.
I am surprised that we have any surviving text from the 3rd century about Christ and thrilled to have the opportunity to read about it.
Remember.... The truth shall set you free!


Veritas vos liberabit! Beauseant!!!

Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon, an early orthodox Christian writer wrote a treatise called AGAINST HERESIES (A.D. 180) where he denounces the Gospel of the Cainite gnostics called the Gospel of Judas. But Seth rather than Cain is mentioned in the above Gospel of Judas. Are these two Gospels of Judas one and the same? A third century work ascribed to Tertullian, AGAINST ALL HERESIES, also attributes the Gospel of Judas to the gnostic followers of Cain. Is this the same Gospel of Judas? Are the Sethite gnostics really the same as the Cainite gnostics as the editors of this book published by National Geographic (2006) would have us believe? I am doubtful. So there is insufficent information in either of these accounts by the orthodox church fathers to be certain. Therefore, I am sceptical, at this time, of ascribing a second century date to The newly published Gospel of Judas ascribed to the Sethites merely because a (long-known but unfamiliar) Gospel of Judas acribed to the Cainites is mentioned and denounced by Irenaeus (180).

To make the quantum leap from this being a "new gospel" based solely on its antiquity (allegedly from the 4th/5th CE)to its being a testimony from one who lived at the time of Jesus is preliminary, at best. To be sure, Judas lived out his destiny, as Jesus predicted. However, it is speculative to suggest, as does this "gospel," that Jesus needed an accomplice in his betrayal, and offered the place in history to Judas.

I think this is a very interesting gospel, some very modern concepts are included, but I think the Coptic translation is very poor, so some of the non greek translations dont make sense and totally miss the point.
(source http://reluctant-messenger.com/gospel-thomas-Paul_Halsall.htm).

Example greek version:
30/77) Jesus said: "Where there are [two, they are not] without God, and when there is one alone, [I say,] I am with him. Raise the stone, and there you will find me; cleave the wood, and there I am."
Coptic Version:
30) Jesus said, "Where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two or one, I am with him."

Now the greek version clearly makes sense, for peoples with religions with multiple gods, they still have god, and when they worship one god it is the same god. The coptic version is seperfulous rubish... And I think that allot of the other translations are equaly flawed. But the core messages, from my oppinion are definitely good messages.

"John's quasi-docetic, otherworldly Jesus who bleeds blood and water"

"Hematidrosis" is a medical term for sweating blood and water.

Also, any heart surgeon will tell you that if someone bleeds blood+water when cut, it means they have been stone dead for at least a minute. The blood coagulates into clotted blood and watery serum very rapidly after death.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are based on over 5,200 manuscripts or pieces of manuscript written in original Greek (the trade language then). It is surprising how little these manuscripts differ from each other as well. Besides minor discrepancies that never alter the meaning of any text, the majority of these manuscripts agree word for word with one another. There is no other ancient document that even approaches the New Testament in manuscript integrity and evidence.

When reading these gospels--which are written in historic narrative--ask yourself, do these apostles sound like mere religious fanatics who are out of touch with real life, or do the apostles sound like they have a handle on what is real?

Finally, if Jesus was telling the truth, then he is God in human form, and things like wild exorcisms, miracle healings and ressurection from death are possible for an all powerful being. If not, and if he was simply a mere human, his wild claims point to him being a total nut and not worth our time.

I have been in Christ since 1975. Early on on I read all the New Age and Cultic nonsence. After getting aquainted with all the hype and fluff I settled down expecting not to hear anymore about fake gospels and the like. Well its back! What amazes me is that the story of Judas' gospel broke on NBC's morning show, featuring as the reporter, Katy Kuric. She smiled alot and looked like a kid getting an important lesson. If this is how she handles serious news, CBS would do better to put Dan Rather back in the anchor position.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever


I am fascinated by these findings. I am not as versed as the professors in the comment section. I know more about religion than the average person though. I know that Saturday is the true day of worship. I know that this was changed for political reasons. I know politics and the church should be far apart, but not in the way most people cry about such as the flag. I truly believe various parts of the Bible have been tampered with via the desire of man, NOT GOD! Wasn't Mary M. cleared by the "Church" a few decades ago of being a prostitute. All this time as a child and a man I was under the impression that she was a whore. It brings questions about what else has been changed. Man has twisted the word of God to suit his sinful needs since the dawn of time. Maybe there is a gospel of Judas. Maybe the image of him was as distorted as the image of Mary M. All I know is Jesus died for our sins, and he is the son of God. There is so much I could say about religion right now. I know it has been made more patriarchal by man then God ever intended it to be. Faith is a hard thing to possess in today's world. I am a 33 year old black man. I have been through and seen enough to make me question everything I was taught, yet I still stand firm. I know there are missing parts of the Bible. More important than that is the fact that everything I need to be "saved" is in the Bible in it's present form. Argue on gentleman!

Tom Pike wrote:

>> In response to Professor David Frankfurter's
>> comment:
>> "It really comes down to what kind of idiom
>> you like your theology..."
>> No Professor, it comes down to TRUTH, a word
>> that has been lost in our laughably
>> "intellectual" society.

"Truth" like parthenogenesis on jewish women? Like zombies walking by on first century's Jerusalem?
Like weather controlling prophets? Like "loving" gods that cannot find a better way to forgive humankind than the crucifixion of an innocent (or himself)?
Yeah, right!

Anyway, speaking of "down to earth" documents, just compare:

"They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them."
(Matthew 21,7)

"Jesus said, 'A person cannot mount two horses' "
(Gospel of Thomas, logion 47)

Good point, Professor Frankfurter.

I would venture to say that most if not all Christian (myself included)could be considered "heretical" to some extent. We all have some wrong thoughts about God but that really isn't the point. The point is that we continue to strive to understand God better realizing mistakes will be made along the way. It wasn't that long ago that Christians used the Bible and theology to support sexism, racism, slavism, etc and it will continue until our Lord returns.

That being said I find discoveries such as these fascinating since they help to illuminate others thoughts on God regardless of accuracy.

Whatever the case, this is an exciting time for biblical scholarship!

In response to Professor David Frankfurter's comment:

"It really comes down to what kind of idiom you like your theology..."

No Professor, it comes down to TRUTH, a word that has been lost in our laughably "intellectual" society. It's humorous still how the ossuary of James that was discovered and quickly "shuffled off behind the curtain" by leading "experts", met with less scholarly attention than this gnostic heresy! The "scholars" of our day feign and swoon over a gnostic text while something like the Dead Sea Scrolls which were initially allayed as fake are now a triumph for Biblical accuracy.

I guess the Bible is true:
Rom 1:22 "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools..."

Tom Pique
Biblical Christian

Just on your last point, I do think an objective view of the canonical gospels would indeed count some of them as equally extravagant to those left out -- deemed "heretical" or "apocryphal." Mark's and Luke's wild exorcisms, John's quasi-docetic, otherworldly Jesus who bleeds blood and water -- it's hard to see these as "sober" compared to some of the NHL texts that are meant as philosophical treatises or metaphorical tropes. It really comes down to what kind of idiom you like your theology; and in antiquity, demon-ridden pseudo-biographies were not necessarily revered as the most elevated or sophisticated. There may be historical reasons for the four gospel's "catholicity," but they are not "extravagance" vs. "sober tone."

Another point: for most churches in Irenaeus's and Athanasius's time, there was no idolization of the four. We know (from mss., from church historians of antiquity, and from art) that individual churches read widely in and with great influence from apocryphal gospels and acts.

David Frankfurter
Professor of Religious Studies & History
University of New Hampshire

The comments to this entry are closed.

Books by Tom Veal

Worth Reading (Non-Fiction)