Books That Made Me Mad

I'm a lover of books and of reading, but every once in a while, a book makes me mad. I don't think this has ever been because the book challenged me or contradicted my assumptions or beliefs; I actually enjoy that from time to time. More often, I think it has to do with carelessness or sloppiness. Here are three that made me mad:

The Da Vinci Code

The blockbuster novel, The Da Vinci Code, is a case in point. I knew the premise of the novel before I started reading, and so was prepared to more or less check my brains at the door and go along for a good fictional ride. And, truth be told, Dan Brown is a darn good plotter. But his utter carelessness with theology and history were absolutely maddening to me. For a man who claims to have researched his fiction, Brown's mistakes--and, worse, his clueless assumptions--made it hard for me to keep reading. For example, the book’s central claim about Jesus and Mary Magdalene being husband and wife and having a child would mean nothing, even if it were true. The characters in the book act and talk as if the church claims that if Jesus were fully human, he couldn’t possibly have been divine. That shows an astounding ignorance of Christian theology! In fact, there actually are millions of Jesus’ blood relatives living on earth today. They’re called Jews.

Different by Design

I have great respect for John MacArthur, the author of Different by Design. It is a respect I maintain in spite of this book. It was recommended to me as an example of respectable "complementarian" scholarship--that is, the view that women (and their roles in the church and family) are "equal" but different; they are intended by God to function in complementary roles to men. I approached the book as an egalitarian (one who believes the Bible teaches mutuality between males and females in the church and family), but with a sincere willingness to grant any well-made Biblical point. Unfortunately, I was appalled at the author's unexamined presuppositions and the book's shoddy scholarship.

Rabbi Jesus

Among my favorite topics for reading and study is the Jewish roots of the Christian faith and, in particular, the life and ministry of Jesus. So I was interested to read Bruce Chilton's Rabbi Jesus, though I knew he and I would be on quite different pages theologically. But I was thoroughly unprepared for the wild flights of fancy and imaginative conjectures he tried to pass off as "scholarship" in the book. His rather detailed description of Jesus' physical appearance (portly and balding, among other things) and his conclusion that Mary and Joseph of Nazareth were irresistibly drawn to each other and began having sex virtually from the moment they met are just two examples. I didn't mind that he called on other literature to paint his "portrait" of Rabbi Jesus, but his habit of sometimes citing a morsel from the canonical Gospels' as reliable and dismissing other content from those same texts as clearly unreliable made it hard to take anything he said seriously (he also treats later, non-canonical sources as much more authoritative than what he calls the "traditional" teachings of such sources as the Synoptic Gospels).

As I look back at this post, I really hate to sandwich Dr. MacArthur in with Brown and Chilton. But it is what it is. These are the last three books I can think of that made me mad.

No comments:

Post a Comment