Thursday, 25 June 2015

New book

My new book, An Introduction to Classics: A short guide to the world of ancient Greece and Rome is now available in Kindle format from Amazon.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Three books on Shariah law

The first book that I want to cover in this post is Shariah: The Islamic Law by Abdur Rahman I. Doi.  This is a detailed textbook of the principles and rules of traditional Sunni Shariah.  Such textbooks seem to be rather unusual in the English language.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Pauline Christianity

Here are some characteristics of the churches which Paul founded and ministered to, as gleaned from his letters:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Review of "Mormonism Unvailed" by E.B. Howe (edited by Dan Vogel)

E.B. Howe's Mormonism Unvailed (the spelling was normal for the time) was the first anti-Mormon book to be published after Joseph Smith's new religious movement appeared in 1830.  The work was published in Ohio in 1834.  This is a new edition of the book, which has been edited by Dan Vogel.  Vogel is a prominent secular scholar of Mormonism whose previous major work was his biography Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet.  Vogel has provided an introduction and detailed notes to the text.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Review of "The Rocky Mountain Saints" by T B H Stenhouse

This is an interesting piece of 19th century anti-Mormon literature.  Thomas Stenhouse (1825-1882) was a Mormon journalist who fell out with the church.  He published the book in 1873 as an exposé of what had gone on in early Utah, which he depicted as a repressive theocracy.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon - Part 2

For Part 1, please see here

The Church of Christ, as it was originally called, was established on 6 April 1830.  In later years, Smith would claim that the biblical figure John the Baptist had appeared and ordained him to the "Aaronic priesthood" in 1829, but this was another story that he appears to have come up with ex post facto.  In any event, Smith didn't stop to pause for breath.  He quickly started work on a new scripture called the Book of Moses, which became the first part of a new "translation" of the Bible - actually an edited and somewhat expanded version of the King James translation.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon - Part 1

"....[S]he saw that from this man's brain issued phantoms like pigeons.  They were neither Red Indians nor Israelites, yet they had something of each in their bearing.  And these poured like smoke from the head of this little man.  In his hand was a book, and he held it over his head.  And the book itself was guarded by an angelic figure whose face was extraordinarily stern and unbeautiful, but who scattered with wide hands the wealth of life, children, and corn, and gold.  And behind all these things was a great multitude; and about them were the symbolic forms of exile and death and every persecution, and the hideous laughter of triumphant enemies.  All this seemed to weigh heavily upon the little man that had created it; Iliel thought that he was seeking incarnation for the sake of its forgetfulness.  Yet the light in his eyes was so pure and noble and magnetic that it might have been that he saw in a new birth the chance to repair his error."

Such was the legendary occultist Aleister Crowley's fictionalised depiction of Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church).  Smith is not the only prophet that America has given the world - Mary Baker Eddy, Edgar Cayce and L. Ron Hubbard are other examples.  But he is probably the most influential.