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Member: DubiousDisciple

CollectionsYour library (411)

Reviews410 reviews

TagsRevelation (1), Christianity (1), religion (1) — see all tags

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About meHello! I'm Lee Harmon, an author, historical Jesus scholar, book reviewer, and liberal Christian, which means I appreciate and attempt to exercise the humanitarian teachings of Jesus without getting hung up on supernatural or religious beliefs. I am put off by neither the atheist nor the strict fundamentalist ... or, for that matter, the Muslim or Buddhist. All are brothers, and none has a monopoly on God.

The Bible is a magnificent book that has inspired and spiritually fed generations for thousands of years, and each new century seems to bring a deeper understanding of life’s purpose. This is true of not only Christianity; through the years, our age-old religions have slowly transformed from superstitious rituals into humanitarian philosophies. In short, we are growing up, and I am thrilled to be riding the wave.


Check out my latest book about Revelation, and my book blog, where I alternate book reviews with intriguing Bible commentary, and follow along on facebook or twitter!

GroupsBiblical History, Christianity, Let's Talk Religion, MinnesotaThings, Pro and Con, Progressive Christianity, Religion Studies


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Membership LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway

Real nameLee Harmon

LocationLino Lakes, Minnesota

Favorite authorsNot set

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/DubiousDisciple (profile)
/catalog/DubiousDisciple (library)

Member sinceMar 17, 2011

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Hey... I like your description of your studies and interests...
Got the ARC in today's mail, thanks! It's on the TBR pile and I'm off to catalog it now.
Reading your latest review:

A hypothesis is needed that does justice both to critical scholarship and to the integrity of the church fathers. -- Well, not for a reader like me, who takes that integrity as something to be established, rather than something that axiomatically establishes.

Matthew’s apparent familiarity with the events of 70 CE -- I couldn't believe you'd give him a pass on that one! But I can see how the book would still be interesting and useful as a contemporary exposition of a long-espoused and reasonably coherent view, even if that view has some obvious weaknesses.
Okay, I'll give your new one a read, if you like. As it happens, I'm pretty satisfied with the textual unity of the fourth gospel, outside of the rare disputed passage. So I'll accept the premise of the author of John (rather than the "Johannine community"), although whether his name was "John" I consider dubious, and I don't suppose that he was an immediate personal disciple of the Historical Pinocchio.

Say, did you ever read Hazleton's Jezebel? It really is remarkably similar to your first book in its synthesis of fictional narrative with historical study of bibilical origins.
You're taking on a different biblical text with your new book, right? Which one? If you're going to tell us how the life of Jesus "really happened," you probably don't want me for a reviewer! See my remarks in the recent "historical Jesus" thread and my essay here. But I am curious about your sequel.

I still think the lower star ratings (mine certainly) had less to do with your interpretation of Revelation, and more to do with the way you supported it, and how you structured your commentary and wove it together with the fictional frame-story. Although I've mentioned that I think the book has a blind spot regarding the psycho-spiritual properties and potency of Revelation, I find the historical reading to be a valid part of the picture, and one that you've obviously succeeded in grasping -- and that you enhanced for me, even if I enjoy quibbling on some of the details. Whether the resulting book turned out to be an engaging or frustrating experience for the reader is a distinct issue, but one with great weight in "stars."
Lee, I recall you saying that you found the star ratings unusually low on LT compared to other venues. When I read your review of The Reality Bible today, I found it a valuable review (gave you a thumb), and thought to myself: "No way in hell will I bother to read that book. Why on earth would he give it three stars?"
actually the second one is updated version, and I think it is even better than the first and he has questions set up for each chapter to make it a study as well, I bought it and got a free DVD with it.
Thanks for the invite, I'll have to get a copy of your book.
Oh, no. No confusion here on that score.
No points to the author of Daniel for "originality," either, though. Let's not project our modern cravings for novelty into Hebrew antiquity!
You may say I'm a dreamer, but ... everybody dreams. The challenges are to remember our dreams, to understand them, and as the case may be, to master them or to submit to them. "O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof." (Daniel 4:9)
I notice that star ratings function much differently on Amazon, where my only use of them has been to rate performance by "associate" vendors, who evidently live and die by their proportion of 5-star ratings. That causes a certain amount of inflation, I think. On LT, ratings are not aggregated the way they often are on other sites, and there is no explanation for them as a metric (beyond the obvious "more stars = better"). As a result, thingamabrarians tend to be more idiosyncratic in their star ratings--I think it tends to be more about the subjective value of the book within the user's own library, rather than an attempt to provide an objective assessment for the benefit of a generic reader.

You make a valiant case for the rational composition of Revelation by educing the intricate references to the other literature of its milieu, and yet. The visionary element in literature doesn't have to be an ad hoc ecstasy, and isn't inherently opposed to rational composition. It wasn't so, even for a paradigmatic case like William Blake. In fact, the reverse tends to be the case. Although often framed as reverie or dream, the stakes in most successful visionary writing are not so much the documentation of a spontaneous experience as the inculcation of certain experiences in readers.

Have you read the Psychomachia of Prudentius? It's a favorite of mine, and its commonalities with (most likely derivations from) Revelation are unmistakable. It's much less cryptic--one might even call it bluntly didactic. But I believe that many of the same methods it uses so obviously are also more artfully deployed in Biblical visions. (There's a highly insightful study of Prudentius that forms one chapter of Carruthers' Craft of Thought, which book provides a lot of intellectual context for the point I'm trying to make here.)
Hi, Dubious. Thanks for your good-natured reply. With all the book reviews I've written on the 'net, yours is the second time I've had a direct response from an author, and the other fellow didn't take criticism nearly as well!

I did read the other LT reviews of your book (after writing my own), and I think mine is pretty par for the course there. Stars, I dunno. As you can see from my catalog, I'm not really "into" star ratings per se, but I feel a certain obligation to come up with them when I'm fulfilling me Early Reviewer duties.

When I talk about the "myth" in Revelation, I don't mean its debt to ancient pagan religious literature, I mean the way it uses narrative and image to address a numinous core of human experience. While I share your curiosity about positive history, I don't think that's where we can find the value in a text like this one. For a good sense of what I'm on about here, you might try Northrop Frye's The Great Code, which I'm about midway through reading at the moment. As far as I've gotten, I'm in firm agreement with the theory offered there.

You ask: Or was first-century religion more of a mystery religion? Well, as it happens, I do tend to think that the practical dimensions of primitive Christianity had more in common with Hellenistic pagan mystery cults than today's readers tend to believe or scholars to admit. Have you read Jonathan Z. Smith's Drudgery Divine by any chance?

As I reflect on it, I think your book might have benefitted from having the autobiographical note at the beginning rather than the end. It would have considerably defused the accumulated frustration you can find in the first paragraph of my review anyhow. Knowing that a Biblical inerrantist setting was your first framing of the text prior to your researches and discoveries would have helped me as a reader, whereas a recurring tacit implication that it was mine did not. (I originally approached Revelation on a visionary-phenomenological basis, somewhat along the lines set forth in Aldous Huxley's Heaven and Hell.)

It occurs to me that your book bears comparison to one which I really enjoyed, Lesley Hazleton's Jezebel. She had all the different threads of scriptural commentary, historical speculation, and fictionalized narrative that you did (plus personal travel memoir!), but she just pulled it off far more readably. I certainly can't fault you for an ambitious approach in your first book.
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Revelation: The Way it Happened was published in December, 2010. I'm currently working on a similar book about John's Gospel.
I tried to be fair. I'm not hard over in my belief ofthe dininity of Revelation but have not written it off.
Thank you!
Welcome to LT, and thanks for a couple of refreshing comments in the Pro and Con (Religion) group. The voice of reason and moderation is not always at its strongest in that group!

Hi, welcome to LibraryThing, and thanks for the "Friends" invitation.

- Bob
Welcome! Good to meet you. Sounds like we have some common interests. I look forward to perusing your library and asking questions when need be. I am open to doing the same.
Pleased to meet you. Given your profile description, you might want to check out "God" by Alexander Waugh. A brief, witty, and ecumenical look at how different monotheistic traditions describe God. It also has some jokes.
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