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Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   390
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.25" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   1.15 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 6, 2007
Publisher   Prometheus Books
ISBN  1591025834  
EAN  9781591025832  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The great popularity of The Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins attests to the strong appeal of apocalyptic beliefs in many conservative Christian communities. As biblical scholar Robert M. Price reveals in this history and critique of Christian end-time beliefs, LaHaye and Jenkins's famous novels are just the latest examples of a long tradition of popular fundamentalist eschatology.

Price traces the origin and scriptural basis, which is sometimes astonishingly skimpy, for such beliefs as the Rapture, the Second Coming, the Antichrist, and Messianic prophecy. He emphasizes that the writers of the New Testament consistently set a first-century deadline for the return of Jesus Christ, and yet the stubborn fact that the Second Coming obviously did not occur has not deterred fundamentalist Christians from blindly predicting the event throughout the centuries up to the present day.

Price then critiques the raft of previous apocalyptic novels before turning to the Left Behind series. He offers both literary and theological criticism, while explaining the psychological appeal of the books. Finally, he offers a parody chapter on the Left Behind series called "Tribulation Farce."

With its approachable, engaging style, The Paperback Apocalypse makes complex scholarly research accessible to the interested lay reader. Seminarians, religion scholars, interested observers of the American religious scene, and even fans of the Left Behind series will learn much from Price's in-depth scholarship.

Buy Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind by Robert M. Price from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781591025832 & 1591025834

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More About Robert M. Price

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Robert M. Price, Ph.D. (Selma, NC), professor of scriptural studies at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, is the editor (with Jeffery Jay Lowder) of The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave and the Journal of Higher Criticism. He is also the author of Top Secret: The Truth Behind Today's Pop Mysticisms; The Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind; The Reason-Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For?; The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man; and Deconstructing Jesus; among other works.

Robert M. Price was born in 1954.

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1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity   [2270  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
More excellence from Price, however...  Nov 7, 2008
However, this book, as others have already written here, will not be read by those who need to read it - the millions who have already bought ( and actually read!) the Left Behind books and have bought the whole story, hook, line and sinker. And unfortunately it has fueled an entire political movement, featuring a whole bunch of people in the military up to and including the guys whose fingers are poised above the buttons that will launch the nuclear Armageddon these End Times freaks are so excited about. Price may be "right" about the BS of all this in the Bible, but the ones who are wrong don't care, far outnumber us, and they have the WMDs. I can take no comfort in my enjoyment of this book - unless it somehow gets read by those Christian Whackjobs. But we know their motto already - Why let the Truth interfere with a good story? And that's the problem: they actually believe their little story is Reality. And where does confusing Story with Reality take us? Every mass murder in the name of God, for starters.
One positive thing to note on this date: Americans overwhelmingly did NOT buy the End Times rhetoric of one Sarah Palin! Thank God she's been sent back to Alaska and not to Washington DC. There is hope, after all...
Another look at "End Times" beliefs  Sep 25, 2008
Will there be a Rapture? Will Jesus return from heaven? Who is the Antichrist? And when will all these things happen?

They won't, according to _Paperback Apocalypse_ by Robert M. Price.

The first few chapters go into the history of apocalyptic writings. Price delves into ancient Babylonian, Greek and Hebrew mythology (Yamm and Yahve anyone?), as well as providing an analysis of both the Old and New Testament. By doing so, Price endeavors to prove the case that the prophetic events in Revelation and elsewhere in the Bible, refer to events that have already happened during the time of the early church. The first five chapters cover the development of the stories about the Messiah, the Second Coming, Antichrist, etc. into the beliefs that many people have today about the "end times". Again and again, people have tried to tie in these "prophecies" with the current events of their day, only to end up on the wrong side of history as life goes on....

The next few chapters are a series of book reviews of apocalyptic novels, both Christian and secular (The _Omen_, etc). Of course, the Left Behind series gets its own chapter.

_Paperback Apocalypse_ does provide a useful alternative viewpoint. The book does have a strange shift in tone, though; it almost reads like two separate books. In the foreword, he introduces himself as a former fan of apocalyptic literature, and promises no "derision or contempt" (p. 12). The next few chapters are a calm, reasoned exposition of his viewpoint, backed up with Scripture and other sources.

This changes as he begins to describe the various novels. Now Price seems to increasingly lose his patience with fundamentalists, evangelicals and Bible literalists. He tends to mix the terms "fundamentalism" and "Christianity" a little freely, as well.

At page 290, he seems to have "blown his stack". The crack about "cretins" is insulting (and not 100% etymologically correct either--according to Oxford Dictionary, the word "cretin" is linked to "Christian" in a path through ancient dialects--and it also emphasized the humanity of certain affected persons. It was not a term of abuse until very recently!).

Near the end, though, he makes a point with which most readers probably can agree : waiting around for "the end of the world" is not an excuse to ignore the responsibilities of one's current life

There are plenty of good notes at the end of each chapter, for those who want to investigate some of these ideas further. I preferred this book to David Morgan's The New Brothers Grimm : Paperback Apocalypse has more substance to it. The book is easy to follow and understand, although I found myself looking up terms such as "ressentiment" and "Q passage.

If you can get past the snarkiness in the later chapters, _Paperback Apocalypse_ is worth checking out.
Not a Novel  Apr 14, 2008
Having read the "Left Behind" series of books, this answer to the absurd premis of them was fun but not nearly as fun to read. The "Left Behind" series, if taken as just another series of action adventures, were pretty good. As theology, they are ridiculous but no moreso than the Bible. It was fun to watch the holes punched in the theology and logic.
Paperback Interpretation  Feb 18, 2008
Price takes a look at biblical prophecy and the fiction writing it has inspired. He first looks at the biblical theology, and then offers a critique of just about every fictional book of this genre that has ever been written.

Price finds the basis for Jewish apocalypse in the monarchies and creation myths of the Middle-East. When the Jews returned from Babylonian exile they brought these myths with them. Tiamat the sea monster (tohu, Leviathan), and Behemoth (bohu) the earth monster translates to "without form and void," in the Genesis account. They were also influenced by Zoroastrianism. The inspiration for the Jewish apocalyptic writings was the scribe's resentment of the ruling class, and their hope for better times. It was the jealousies and hatreds of ancient minds that were the basis for the biblical text, not the inspiration of God as the Bible teaches (2 Tim 3:11, 2 Pet 1:21).

The idea that the OT predicts Jesus as the Messiah is because the NT authors quote the OT out of context. The tendency of the reformers to break with traditional appeals to the OT leaves Christians unable to prove that they were right and the Jews were wrong. Prophesying Jesus wasn't the original intent of the OT writers. Ancient and medieval apologists only imagined "deeper" levels of meaning. Modern hermeneutics rule out that the NT might explain the OT. The authors had to be speaking about their time and situation. First Price says the NT authors took the OT scriptures out of context. Later he says the ancient Jewish interpreters took the scriptures out of context. Isn't it strange that the authors of the Bible wrote so that they could be understood by using modern hermeneutics, but then they totally disregarded those methods when they interpreted the scriptures? What's wrong with this picture?

The moral tyrant in Jewish scripture is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and the symbolism representing him is of Zoroastrian origin. In Revelation we can see this symbolism repeated to represent Titus, Hadrian, Nero and/or Caligula. Price suggests the inspiration for the second beast (Rev 13:11) comes from an obscure Jewish text that ridiculed Jesus as a false messiah.

The warnings Jesus gave in His parables were probably about the wrath of Rome. It is unlikely that the Son of Man sayings go back to the historical Jesus. They were composites of scripture taken out of context as was common in ancient Jewish exegesis. Price refers to the Q document without an introduction for his readers, but that's okay since most of them are probably atheists like he is. The Olivet discourse was probably a later addition to the gospels by Christians who contrived the idea because they considered Him Lord of the OT, and therefore would return in judgment like the OT Lord.

Price looks at the scriptures used to support the pre-tribulation rapture and concludes that the idea is not so much the result of inductive exegesis as it is the desire to escape the suffering of the tribulation. Finally something makes sense.

The author looks at timing phrases associated with the parousia that contain such words as "at hand," "soon," "near," and "this generation" to understand when the return was expected to take place. In one gem of interpretation he scoffs at Lindsey's identification of the invaders of Revelation nine as Russian helicopters. He then says it is supposed to be the Parthian cavalry and chariots sweeping across the Euphrates to conquer Rome. I don't see the difference. He also looks at J. Stuart Russell's book and preterism. Then he compares the scriptures with history and concludes that the need to treat the Bible symbolically is because of failed prophecy. He doesn't mention the continual coming of Christ in the church, or give any credence to the spiritual Kingdom of God.

In the rest of the book Price critiques the many apocalyptic novels that have been written. I had no idea there were so many, or that the first one was written in 1905. Price is really a funny writer, and I got more than a few chuckles from his comments.

In the end Price says that he can't believe in a God that created such a cruel world. That's pretty much what Marcion said about the God of the OT isn't it? If the world does bad things to good people, then a just God will make up for it later IMO.

I actually enjoyed this book because I'm always interested in ideas about Bible prophecy, even if I don't agree with them. It is interesting to compare the views of atheists with those of Christians.

Apocalypse When?  Feb 3, 2008
There are few more arrogant statements out there than the one I've seen on a few bumper stickers: "In case of Rapture, this car will be empty." Even assuming you are an ardent Christian who believes in an upcoming End Time, it is the height of pride to assume that you know exactly what God is thinking when he passes judgment. And, as Robert Price argues in The Paperback Apocalypse, chances are if you believe that the Bible (in particular, Revelation) promises a soon-to-come end of the world, you're going to be disappointed.

The motivation for Price's book are the popular Left Behind books by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, which Price demonstrates have more than a few problems from a Biblical interpretation standpoint. First, however, he provides a history of the Apocalypse and shows how Biblical chapters and verses have been misread (often intentionally) to promote the idea that the End is Coming. Hence, history is filled with people promising a Judgment Day at a certain time, only to have that day pass without even minimal fireworks.

Price deals with related concepts (such as the Second Coming) and shows the flaws in literal readings about them. He then discusses various apocalyptic novels: first, early ones which are generally more interested in preaching than storytelling, then later ones written by more adept authors. He also discusses mainstream novels such as Stephen King's The Stand that use apocalyptic ideas.

Finally, he gets to the where The Paperback Apocalypse is really leading: a dissection of the Left Behind books. Actually, it's more of a tearing apart. La Haye (the idea man for the books) is particularly criticized, and justifiably so. La Haye's version of Christianity is particularly hateful and not all that well reasoned; Price shows just how flawed (and vicious) La Haye's thought process really is. Jenkins (the writer) gets off relatively lightly, although he comes off as something of a sell-out for compromising his art to explain La Haye's vision. Price is not at his best when he speaks of Jenkins; on the one hand, he tries to portray Jenkins as a decent writer, but on the other, Price is constantly harping on bad plot devices and unbelievable characters.

Price describes himself as a former born-again Christian who seemingly grew out of that phase of his life yet still appears to be "reasonably" Christian. He admits an affection for these apocalyptic novels, but it comes off as the affection many people have for particularly bad movies. And though I have not read (nor have any desire to read) the Left Behind books, my brief looks at the books and the reviews I've picked up from others lead me to believe that they are the Plan 9 From Outer Space of apocalyptic novels.

Much as I agree with a lot of what Price says, he is really preaching to the choir. Few who enjoy the Left Behind (and similar) books and believe the themes they preach will pick up this book or accept the ideas inside. Indeed, La Haye and Jenkins seem to believe that critical thought is evil (so if they are appealing to "true" Christians, they are basically saying ignorance and blind faith are good...what a contemptible way to think of your audience!).

Price's writing is often interesting (and humorous) but also often ponderous (and not always logically consistent, such as his opinion of Jenkins), so under normal circumstances, I would only rate this three stars. On the other hand, I think his message is important enough that it is worth a bonus star. This is far from a perfect book, but it is an illuminating one.

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