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A book review from a professional book publicist (but it's not what you think).

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  • Ned Barnett
    As a long-time book publicist, I know only too well the value of controversy in selling books. However, I also know the difference between honest controversy
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2013
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      As a long-time book publicist, I know only too well the value of controversy
      in selling books. However, I also know the difference between honest
      controversy and the kind of controversy that's stirred up through lies and
      distortions. One is a solid marketing tool. One is (at best) an

      Sadly (from that perspective), the #2 "non-fiction" (I use that term
      loosely) book on Amazon today is "Zealot - The Life and Times of Jesus of
      Nazareth." It has risen to the top not based on literary or scholarly
      merit, but because of controversy. The author (and his publicist) are
      apparently masters of creating controversy based on falsehoods to sell a

      I'd heard about the controversy - it's been all over the Social Networking
      news sites - and after just the slightest bit of checking, I found that:


      The author got a degree in the history of religion
      The author got a degree in creative fiction writing, one in sociology, and a
      couple in religion - but none of them in religious history

      The author is a professor of religious history
      The author is a professor of creative fiction writing at one California
      university, and he does something with a center on "Diplomacy" at another
      California state university . he isn't even in the Religion department, let
      alone a professor of religious history

      The author is a "disciple of Jesus"
      The author is a practicing and professing Muslim - his last book was "There
      is no god but God" - beyond that, he doesn't believe in any of the tenets of
      the Christian faith - no virgin birth, no crucifixion (hence no
      resurrection), no "son of God," no divinity, no salvation. Taking all that
      away, how could he be a "disciple of Jesus" - what is there left to follow?

      Beyond that, I'd have to get into the book to find out if the text was as
      dishonest as the hype. If anything it was more so. I bought the book (I
      now wish I'd checked it out at the library, as I've helped to enrich this
      master of deceit), and began finding more. Much more.

      For instance, this guy is a straight-up, in-your face anti-Semite - in the
      beginning of the book's prologue (P.3), he calls Judaism "an ancient cult"
      and said that, in the time of Jesus, the Temple's ceremonies were a huge
      con-job, a massive fraud perpetrated by the high priests (for a piece of the
      action they cynically called the "tithe"). The temple ceremonies were a
      very profitable profit-making scam, nothing more. Clearly he was playing
      off the despicable slander at Jews that they are con-job merchants out to
      make a buck, with no scruples.

      And this was one of the nicer things I found in the "Author's Note," the
      "Introduction" and the "Prologue."

      Seriously, all of this, and I wasn't out of the prologue yet.

      So I wrote the first in a series of blogs about the book, based only on what
      I could find in the book itself (except his career and academic background,
      widely available on unbiased sites online). Here's the link to it, and if
      you care about the impact of dishonest book promotion (or any dishonest PR),
      or if you want to find out what all the hoopla's about, check it out.

      I plan to write a series of blogs as I read on. So far, the next one
      focuses entirely on how he takes biblical passages completely out of context
      to make exactly the opposite point that the passages were meant to mean.
      It's easy enough to find this out - all you have to do is look up the
      passage, and read it and its context. It's like removing the word "not"
      from a Jury's finding: "He's (not) Guilty, Your Honor ." Again, don't take
      my word for it. If distorting the bible to make a point is a problem for
      you, get Aslan's the book out of the library and look up the biblical
      passages for yourself. If you don't have a bible, there are lots of copies
      online - search Google for chapter (not chapter-and-verse, as the context
      comes from placing the quoted verse with the rest of the chapter).

      OK, I'm off my high horse for the moment. Have a good weekend, one and


      Ned Barnett, APR
      Marketing & PR Fellow, American Hospital Association
      Barnett Marketing Communications
      420 N. Nellis Blvd., A3-276 - Las Vegas NV 89110
      702-561-1167 - cell/text
      <http://www.barnettmarcom.com> www.barnettmarcom.com - twitter @nedbarnett

      05-6-16 BMC Logo

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