Bible: Two Proofs And Two Mis-Translations: Why Some Christians Reject Science, by Jesse Clopton James
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book is a hard one to review and to appreciate. There is lot to like about this book, and it is clear that the author is both knowledgeable about science and passionate about the need for biblical translations to have sufficient nuance to capture multiple layers or possibilities in terms of their meaning, both of which are occasional subjects of discussion by this reviewer as well . This passion and knowledge comes through in the book, which is a demanding read unless one comes to it with some sort of knowledge or interest in contemporary science and cosmology. Yet at the same time, this book is frustrating to read because the author sounds like a crotchety old man telling kids to get off his lawn while he waves a shotgun around menacingly, while at the same time talking about how scientists and believers need to stop fighting and learn to get along. Physician, heal thyself. Few readers, even those who have old-earth creationist views like myself, are going to find very much about the author’s unrecognized tension between his frustration at evolutionary atheists and their biblically illiterate backers and tradition-minded religious leaders who are scientifically illiterate, and he is not inclined to be particularly charitable with either camp regardless of his occasional platitudes to the contrary.
This book is a bit of a mess when it comes to its structure and order. To be sure, it is coherent on the level of sentences and paragraphs and within chapters themselves, generally. The author is clearly knowledgeable about contemporary scientific developments that can shine light on origin disputes. Likewise, the author has clearly devoted a great deal of time to the nuance and complexity of ancient Hebrew, a task few people have undertaken. Many of the author’s frequent criticisms about the lack of Bible knowledge among scientists or among knowledge of ancient Hebrew and science among preachers and Bible translators also appear to be spot on. That said, the appendices of this book are a bit of a grab bag of material that take up a large proportion of the book’s total size, and the chapters themselves range from extremely short to somewhat long and rambling rants. The author does at least get to the point in talking about the mis-translations of yom (day, age, etc.) as well as the reference to the sun, moon, and stars in the fourth day of creation in the perfect as opposed to the present tense. Likewise, the author does spend a great deal of time and makes some very excellent arguments concerning his two proofs about the validity of the Bible because of its accuracy in prophecies about Christ and the essential agreement between the Bible and science when both are properly understood, both of which I (and no doubt many others) are in agreement. Ultimately, though, this is a book far easier to respect than it is to like, largely because the author is so personally unpleasant in his rhetoric.
One wonders, in fact, whether the author has taken to heart the insight that one catches more flies with honey than vinegar, an insight this reviewer experimentally confirmed as a child for an elementary school science project. The author appears to want to be recognized as a scientific expert as well as an expert on ancient Hebrew, but he does not go about this task in the right way. Instead of winning over enemies to his side through graciousness and tact, he alienates potential friends by his constant insults and ridicule, and his general attitude of contempt and disrespect for those who do not understand what he understands. This is the sort of book that by virtue of its scholarly excellence and value as a personal memoir of a life spent as a student of both science and the Bible ought to be published and have a wide and appreciative audience, but is so unlikable that it will likely alienate most readers. Ultimately, it is hard to avoid deeply mixed feelings about the work and the wish that the author or some editor were able to remove traces of resentment and bitterness and hostility from this book before it had been inflicted upon the innocent reading public.
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