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The Origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Kindle)

Ancient History P&S History Social History

By John Pickard
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 53.6 MB (.mobi)
This file exceeds the Kindle Cloud 50 MB size limit
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399006781
eBook Released: 30th October 2021

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There has never been a more important time for a study of the social, economic and political origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, three important world religions which share a common root. This book takes as its starting point the idea that gods, angels, miracles and other supernatural phenomena do not exist in the real world and therefore cannot explain the origins of these faiths. It looks instead at the material conditions at appropriate periods in antiquity and the social and economic forces at work, and it examines the historicity of key figures like Moses, Jesus and Mohammed.

This is a unique book which draws on the research, knowledge and expertise of hundreds of historians, archaeologists and scholars, to create a synthesis that is completely coherent and at the same time is based on real-world social conditions. It is a book by a non-believer for other non-believers, and it will be a revelatory read, even to those already of an atheist, agnostic or secularist persuasion.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Writing a book encompassing all three of the world biggest religions is no easy task. This author has, of course, the personal biases which everyone has but in saying that this book is a good representation of trying to explain the many similarities and differences in religions. Not everyone will agree with the assumptions or declarations here but I feel Pickard gives a good argument and this certainly can be considered a good contribution to the discussion. Brace yourself though, this is not an easy read. It has so much information, I can commend the writer for the massive research involved to write this book.

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

The Origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by John Pickard is a fantastic book. The description of the book mentions that this is “a book by a non-believer for other non-believers, and it will be a revelatory read, even to those already of an atheist, agnostic, or secularist persuasion”. I disagree, I think this book is just as important for believers. Besides a few funny remarks, which might raise an eyebrow from believers, this book is a great piece of scholarly work. He spent a lot of time researching the topic and that is visible throughout.

5/5 stars

Read the full review here

Coffee and Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An amazing text which explores the origins, simulators and differences between the three oldest religions. In theology classes they are sometimes referred to as siblings. This text will not bore you, by reading you will be more knowledgeable about each facet of the whole. I'm certain many universities will utilize this text for their Intro to Religion courses.

NetGalley, Kel Mo

This is a fascinating, thought provoking book.

NetGalley, Sandra Miller

I highly recommend the book to scholars and people interested in the alternative view of religion.

NetGalley, Darya Silman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is such a great book! As someone that is a Christian, isn't a historian and very interested in religion, this is a great historical religious breakdown. I definitely plan on using this as a reference for my own personal religious studies and recommend for other people to do the same.

NetGalley, Andrea Arterbery

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by John Pickard is an excellent materialist history of the beginnings of these three major religions. I don't know whether this is an update and/or reprint of his Behind the Myths, I have not read that book, but this volume certainly draws much clearer lines around myth, fact, logical deduction from fact, and just plain religion-as-rationalization-for-bias.

Pickard states rather plainly that those who are devout followers of these religions and not open to considering other viewpoints may as well not read this. And he is correct, though if you fall into that ever growing group who say they believe but also wonder how much of what they believe is based on fact or "truth" I would suggest reading this anyway, you may change your viewpoint or you may find ways that no one has yet found to actually refute the arguments included. I am specifically talking about the arguments, not nit-picking minor word choices or even minor misunderstandings that don't affect the argument itself, those represent misdirecting rather than refuting.

I think what a reader should keep in mind is that a lot of history has been written from within the broad bubble of these religions, even when written by those who don't believe. These myths have become the default foundation for many historical threads which, if incorrect (as this book convincingly argues), makes the history that follows less than fully accurate.

Recent scholarship is cited here as well as a few of the controversies within various disciplines. These controversies are not dominant in the book simply because this is a history book, not a survey of recent scholarship. Surveys simply present while history tries to present a narrative. It is this need to present a narrative that has allowed the myths of these religions to permeate so much of society.

I would highly recommend this to those readers who are atheist but might be so for the simple reason that the stories in the holy books, while interesting and often containing valuable life lessons, make no rational sense whatsoever rather than an historical refutation of the books as fact.
I would perhaps less enthusiastically recommend this to believers who are questioning. If you are interested in adding more information to your decision-making, this will offer a lot to consider.

NetGalley, Jack Messer

About John Pickard

John Pickard has worked as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, as a school science teacher and as a political journalist. In his work as a journalist he has written many articles, features and magazine contributions on science and materialism. This book is the fruit of many years of literature research and will be an interesting and valuable read to atheists from all cultural and religious backgrounds.

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