Reading List from the Year 2015

Books and CoffeeIt has been a great year for reading. I found it gratifying and a little surprising when I assembled the entire list of books that I consumed over the past 12 months. Formats ranged from paperback to hardback to Kindle to Audible. I’ve divided the 39 books into the four categories listed below.

  1. Novels
  2. Books about Writing Books
  3. History and Religion
  4. Still Reading

Each book cover links to Amazon for the publisher’s synopsis. I’ve added my own micro-commentary below each book, not to substitute for a longer synopsis, but simply to highlight what I found notable about each. [Read more…]

Christianity and the Roman Empire, a Book Review

As I do background research for my longer term writing project, I decided it would be a useful side exercise to provide snapshot reviews of various resources that I digest along the way.

I picked up a paperback copy of “Christianity and the Roman Empire”, by  Ralph Martin Novak, at Half Price Books a week ago. It offers a substantial volume of well-chosen textual excerpts from historians and writers taken from the period of the Roman Empire, such as Tacitus, Josephus, Seutonius, Justin Martyr, and so on. Novak provides excellent commentary and discussion throughout as a scholar of Roman History with an education from University of Chicago. His presentation is objective and presents material critical of both the Roman and Christian players involved. The chronological arrangement allows the reader to see how views and policies shifted over time. [Read more…]

Dangled Over a Flame: Jews and Jesus Among Pagan Gods

Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Justin Martyr provides an interesting look at apologetics in the century following Jesus’ life. His First Apology was dated to between 147 and 161 AD. Greek and Roman god worship was alive and well, and Christianity was trying to grow from the same cultural earth as these various competing religions.

To make his case, Martyr compares Christian claims about Jesus to the existent mythology of the culture. It must be noted that the pagan themes and beliefs pre-existed Christianity. They were antecedent, and Christian doctrine blossomed against this backdrop.

Martyr makes it clear that the pagans already had themes that appear in Christianity, for he makes the argument in several ways that “we propound nothing different from what you believe”, and he addresses several key areas:

  1. The Word
  2. Sonship
  3. Divine Conception
  4. Suffering and Death
  5. Resurrection and Ascension

Martyr’s leading argument (all emphasis following mine):

And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth  of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.

[Read more…]

Quotes from Francis Collins

I selected a few salient quotes from Francis Collins‘ book on evolutionary development and faith, The Language of God, which I would recommend reading alongside the resources already suggested by Ayala, Venema, and Falk (though Falk is better). Collins is a Christian and was the leader of the legendary Human Genome Project. His book is an apologetic for both evolutionary development and the Christian faith.

On supposed micro/macro evolutionary distinctions:Language_of_god_francis_collins

The distinction between macroevolution and microevolution is therefore seen to be rather arbitrary; larger changes that result in new species are a result of a succession of smaller incremental steps.

On the connection between evolutionary theory and medicine:

Truly it can be said that not only biology but medicine would be impossible to understand without the theory of evolution.

[Read more…]

Quote: Michael Shermer on Belief & Reversals

The Believing BrainOnce beliefs are formed, the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which adds an emotional boost of further confidence in the beliefs and thereby accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive feedback loop of belief confirmation.

As well, occasionally people form beliefs from a single revelatory experience largely unencumbered by their personal background or the culture at large.

Rarer still, there are those who, upon carefully weighing the evidence for and against a position they already hold, or one they have yet to form a belief about, compute the odds and make a steely-eyed emotionless decision and never look back… It happens, but it is as rare as a black swan.

~ Michael Shermer, The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

Read Complete: On The Reliability of the Old Testament, by K.A. Kitchen

Kenneth Kitchen’s volume On The Reliability of the Old Testament is a book important enough to the evangelical community that I think a full review is warranted. That is currently in the works. In the meantime, I think it is sufficient to note that Kitchen is cited by many for two main reasons: (1) he defends the historical basis for the OT, and (2) he provides ample and quotable criticism of scholars like Finkelstein.

However, even granting that Kitchen’s narrow minority views are correct, readers ought to beware that he does not land us in the place many seem to think. What he concedes to folks like Finkelstein, Silberman, Dever, etc., proves far more notable than where he disagrees. The ‘reliability’ that he defends is by no means the traditional view of the texts in question. And as he does so, he demonstrates that the biblical texts are entirely non-unique among their antecedent and contemporary pagan cousins. Kitchen defends a different mountain than the one on which evangelicals have planted their flag. Tall Tale Tellers the biblical chroniclers remain.

His chapter on Genesis, dealing with both the creation and the flood, is a breathtaking expansion of discussions only covered briefly in other books on Christian origins. I believe that I could have saved myself a great deal of effort and a great many books, had I simply read Kitchen’s chapter first. It is more evident on Kitchen than ever that the Genesis accounts are as fabricated as their cousins, and as blind.

Long survey pending.

Bibliography of Sources from Deconversion Journey

Resources are the most important component of any inquiry. My thanks to the many scholars who make true inquiry possible.

A Brief Note on Stats

See “Reading the Wrong People” for a pie-chart breakdown of resources by worldview.

Written References

  1. Alexander, Denis. “How Does a BioLogos Model Need to Address the Theological Issues Associated with an Adam Who Was Not the Sole Genetic Progenitor of Humankind?” The Biologos Foundation. Undated. (accessed October 2012).
  2. Ayala, Francisco. Darwin’s Gift: To Science and Religion . Joseph Henry Press, 2007.
  3. Beale, G.K. “Myth, History, and Inspiration: A Review Article of ‘Inspiration and Incarnation’ by Peter Enns.” JETS, June 2006: 287-312.
  4. Borg, Marcus J. Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written. HarperOne , 2012.
  5. Calvin, John. The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2008.
  6. Carson, D.A. “Three Books on the Bible: A Critical Review.” April April 2006.
  7. Chesterton, G.K. Orthodoxy. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1908.
  8. Collins, C. John. Science and Faith: Friends or Foes? Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003.
  9. Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
  10. Dennis, Lane T., ed. ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.
  11. Dever, William G. What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.
  12. Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them). HarperOne, 2010.
  13. Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. USA: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  14. Enns, Peter. Evolution of Adam, The: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins. Brazos Press, 2012.
  15. Enns, Peter. Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.
  16. Falk, Darrel R. Coming to Peace with Science. Intervarsity Press, 2004.
  17. Finkelstein, Israel, and Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: Simon and Schuster, Touchstone, 2002.
  18. Frame, John M. Review of Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation. Undated. (accessed October 2012).
  19. General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. The Westminster Confession of Faith. Atlanta, GA: Committee for christian Education and Publications, PCA Bookstore, 1990.
  20. Harris, Sam. Letter to a Christian Nation. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.
  21. Hawking, Stephen, and Leonard Mlodinow. The Grand Design. New York, NY: Random House, 2010.
  22. Hitchens, Christopher. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2007.
  23. Josephus, Flavius. The Works of Josephus: New Updated Edition, Complete and Unabridged. Translated by William Whiston. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987.
  24. Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds. USA: Anchor Books, 2005.
  25. Keller, Tim. “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople.” The Biologos Foundation. Undated. (accessed October 2012).
  26. Ladd, George Eldon, Herman A. Hoyt, Loraine Boettner, and Anthony A. Hoekema. The Meaning of the Millennium, Four Views. Edited by Robert G. Clouse. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1977.
  27. Lennox, John C. Seven Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science. Zondervan, 2011.
  28. Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain. New York, NY: HarperCollins eBooks, 1940.
  29. Mark, Joshua J. Enuma Elish – The Babylonian Epic. March 2, 2011. (accessed October 2012).
  30. Massey, Chris. “No Adam, No Eve, No Problem.” http://CognitiveDiscoPants/ June 2011. (accessed October 2012).
  31. Massey, Chris. “Review: Tim Keller on Adam and Eve – Part I and Part II.” http://CognitiveDiscoPants/ June 2011. (accessed October 2012).
  32. Massey, Chris. “The Bible’s Most Overlooked but Really, Really Important Guy.” http://CognitiveDiscoPants/ September 1, 2011. (accessed October 2012).
  33. McGrath, Alister E. Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley and Sons, 2011.
  34. McGrath, Alister E. Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1998.
  35. McGrath, Alister E. The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World. USA: Doubleday/Random House, 2004.
  36. McGrath, Alister E., et al. Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought. Malden, MA: Blackwell PUblishers Ltd, 1993.
  37. Meek, Esther Lightcap. Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, Baker Book House Company, 2003.
  38. Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2009.
  39. Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, MI: Intervarsity Press, 1994.
  40. Olson, Steve, and Jay B. Labov. Thinking Evolutionarily: Evolution Education Across the Life Sciences, Summary of a Convocation. 2012: National Research Council of the National Academies, National Academy of Science, Washington, DC.
  41. Opderbeck, David. A “Historical” Adam? April 15, 2010. (accessed October 2012).
  42. Plantinga, Alvin. Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  43. Price, Robert M., John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, James D.G. Dunn, and Darrel L. Bock. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. Edited by James K. Beilby, & Paul R. Eddy. IVP Academic, 2009.
  44. Principe, Lawrence M. Lecture Series: Science and Religion. The Teaching Company, Limited Partnership. 2006.
  45. Sire, James W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1997.
  46. Sproul, R.C. Knowing Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977.
  47. Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.
  48. Thomas, Robert L, and Stanley N. Gundry. A Harmony of the Gospels, NASB. Harper Collins, 1978.
  49. Venema, Dennis, and Darrel Falk. Does Genetics Point to a Single Primal Couple? April 5, 2010. (accessed October 2012).
  50. Witherington, Ben. The Jesus Quest: the Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth. 2nd. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997.
  51. Wolpe, David. Did the Exodus Really Happen? 2004. (accessed 2013).
  52. Wright, N.T. The New Testament and the People of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Volume 1. London: Fortress Press, 1992.
  53. Wright, N.T. The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3. Minneapolis, MS: Fortress Press, 2003.
  54. Kitchen, K.A. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2003
  55. James, Peter. Centuries of Darkness. New Brunswick, NJ. Rutgers University Press. 1993.
  56. Hamilton, Edith. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. New York, NY. Grand Central Publishing. 1942.
  57. Walton, John H. Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology. Winona Lake, IN. Eisenbrauns. 2011.
  58. Wolterstorff, Nicholas. Reason within the Bounds of Religion. 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids, MI. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1976/1984.
  59. Berlinski, David. The Deniable Darwin & Other Essays. Discovery Institute Press. 2010.
  60. Zacharias, Ravi. The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists. Zondervan. 2008.
  61. Ashton, John F., Ed. In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation. Green Forest, AR. Master Books. 2001/2009.
  62. Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason: Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology. Nineola, NY. Dover Publications. 1794/1896/2004.
  63. Batchelor, Stephen. Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. New York. Spiegel & Grau. 2010.
  64. Chesterton, G.K. The Everlasting Man. San Francisco. Ignatius Press. 1925/1953.

Multimedia References

YouTube and Video






  • Peter Enns. Ancient World, God’s Word: A Look at the Old Testament and its Challenges. Lecture series at Brandywine Valley Baptist Church.
  • Interview with Bart Ehrman. Commonwealth Club Radio Program Podcast.
  • Debate: Craig Evans versus Bart Ehrman. Does the New Testament Misquote Jesus? DebateGod Podcast.
  • Interview with Peter Enns. The Evolution of Adam with Peter Enns. Homebrewed Christianity Podcast.
  • Interview with Bart Ehrman. Jesus’ Existence, Apocalypticism, and Holy Week. Homebrewed Christianity Podcast.
  • Interview with Peter Enns. The Evolution of Adam. The (Re)vangelical Podcast.
  • Interview with Robert Price. Will the Real Jesus Please Rise? Religion for Life Podcast.
  • Interview with John Dominic Crossan. Will the Real Jesus Please Rise? Religion for Life Podcast.
  • Interview with John Shelby Spong. Will the Real Jesus Please Rise? Religion for Life Podcast.
  • Interview with Bart Ehrman. Will the Real Jesus Please Rise? Religion for Life Podcast.

Websites (Selected)

Origins, Creation, & Flood

Old Testament & Archaeology

New Testament



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Variant Readings

Thoughts on History, Religion, Archaeology, Papyrology, etc. by Brent Nongbri