Review of Disciples by Stephen R. Kaufman

Stephen Kaufman wrote the following review of Disciples.  It appeared in the May 15 issue of the e-newsletter of the Christian Vegetarian Association.

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Nearly all Christians accept without question the assertion that Christianity started with Jesus. In this remarkable book, Keith Akers argues convincingly that the movement now called Christianity preceded Jesus’ ministry. It regarded Jesus as an exemplary leader, but evidently it did not consider Jesus divine.

Akers focuses on the Jewish Christian movement – those Jews who followed Jesus during his life and honored him after his death. Though they were the ones who knew Jesus best, their understanding of his teachings was eventually deemed heretical by a Gentile church that was heavily influenced by Paul. Continue reading “Review of Disciples by Stephen R. Kaufman”

Review of Disciples in “The Dubious Disciple”

The following review of Disciples appeared in Lee Harmon’s blog “The Dubious Disciple”:

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Wow. I wish I had written this book. Speculative but convincingly argued, it strikes a perfect balance between reason and wonder, as it traces the evolution and demise of Jewish Christianity.

I have both curiosity and sympathy for the Ebionites, that early Jewish Christian sect which probably stemmed from the first Christians in Jerusalem, headed by Jesus’ brother James. Their disagreements with Paul, their emphasis on simplicity, and their primitive Christology have always intrigued me. Continue reading “Review of Disciples in “The Dubious Disciple””

Review of “Disciples” in “The Metaphysical Express”

Pat Moauro, the editor of The Metaphysical Express (London, Ontario, Canada), has written a review of Disciples, which is posted below. Pat encourages anyone who wants a copy of this journal to e-mail him at patmor123 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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After reading Keith Akers’ newest book, Disciples, I must admit I found some of his information about the origins of Christianity startling and surprising. Although I left traditional Christianity many years ago in favour of metaphysical and New Thought Christianity, I was still somewhat taken aback while reading this book and its conclusions about Jesus Christ, the organization and church built around his name, and the way Christianity has splintered and shattered into hundreds of competing sects and groups, each claiming to be the “True” church founded by Jesus. Continue reading “Review of “Disciples” in “The Metaphysical Express””

Review of “Disciples” by Brian Wagner

Here’s another review of Disciples:

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Keith Akers’ latest effort, Disciples:  How Jewish Christianity shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church, is a ground-breaking examination of a largely misunderstood period in Christian history.  Akers’ illumination of primary sources throws into question many long-held beliefs of the trajectory of early Christianity.  His systematic review of the surviving evidence gradually builds a formidable and convincing framework for an understanding of the early faith.  If you are interested in pre-Nicene Christianity, this is a must-read.

Brian Wagner, doctoral candidate, New Testament and Early Christian Studies, University of South Africa.

“Disciples” is published

My new book, Disciples: How Jewish Christianity Shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church (Apocryphile Press, 2013) has now been published. You can order it on Amazon here. (I will not be selling it through my website.)

A book about the disciples of Jesus would typically start with Jesus himself: first there was Jesus, then he had disciples. Disciples suggests a fundamentally different story: first there was a movement, then Jesus emerged as its leader. This movement was markedly different from both rabbinic Judaism and gentile Christianity. It became known to history as “Jewish Christianity”— Jews who followed both Jesus (as they understood him) and the Jewish law (as they understood it).

These first disciples affirmed simple living, nonviolence, and vegetarianism, and rejected wealth, war, and animal sacrifices. Some two decades after Jesus was crucified, they split with their most famous missionary, Paul, over the issues of vegetarianism and eating meat from animal sacrifices. These events become clear through examination of the letters of Paul and the Jewish Christian literature: the Recognitions, the Homilies, and testimony about Jewish Christianity in the early church fathers. The history of Jewish Christianity takes our understanding of Christian origins into a completely new realm. Continue reading ““Disciples” is published”

Carl Anders Skriver

By Michael Skriver

Carl Anders Skriver (1903 – 1983)

Dr. Carl Anders Skriver has been a leading figure in the vegetarian movement during the last 60 plus years. Born on December 8, 1903 – 110 years ago – his view of the world changed forever at the age of 17 after reading texts on the teachings of Gautama Buddha. As a consequence he was no longer able to contemplate the killing and eating of animals. He studied classical Indology for his doctorate in philosophy (The Idea of Creation in Vedic Literature).

On encouragement of his Buddhist friend Hans Much, Professor of Medicine, he then studied theology.  Another challenge was posed by the question: Was the love of Buddha greater, and much more inclusive, than the compassion of Jesus? Continue reading “Carl Anders Skriver”

Interview with John Howe

John Howe, with a solar tractor and solar car

John Howe is a vegetarian who “walks the walk” concerning sustainability and simple living on his farm in Maine. He is the author of The End of Fossil Energy. His book is excellent and deserves more attention, especially from vegetarians. For further information and/or to obtain the complete nine-chapter manuscript, contact howe@megalink.net. My questions are in bold, with his responses following.

Continue reading “Interview with John Howe”

One small point about the “Jesus’ wife” paper

Mary Magdalene

Karen King’s draft paper on Jesus’ wife, and the Harvard Divinity School’s web site on the subject, both have a minor grammatical problem: the English title given to the gospel fragment.  They style it as The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, i. e., the possessive form of “Jesus” is made by adding an apostrophe – “s,” rather than simply an apostrophe.

I would respectfully suggest that they change this in the final version.  It should be styled “Jesus’ wife.”  Saying “Jesus’s wife” is just too awkward. Continue reading “One small point about the “Jesus’ wife” paper”

“Be the Change” — where did this saying come from?

“We must be the change we want to see in the world.”  This is one of the most widely quoted sayings attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.  But did Gandhi actually say this?  In June 2009 I posted an article questioning whether Gandhi actually said this. While this statement is everywhere on the internet, tracking down a reliable print source is much more difficult.  Now, I have a better idea of where this saying comes from, and the answer certainly surprised me. Continue reading ““Be the Change” — where did this saying come from?”

The Ethics of a Natural Foods Diet

What revisions would I make to section III of A Vegetarian Sourcebook (AVS) on “Vegetarian Ethics,” if I were to rewrite it today?  In this section, I took a historical approach to the “timeless issues” of a more philosophical nature. How have vegetarians dealt with ethics throughout human history? For the most part, this is the history of vegetarianism in philosophy and religion, with section III giving a quick overview of the major philosophical and religious systems and their attitudes towards animals.

How much have ethical issues changed in the last 30 years? Well, if you’re surveying the past 3000 years of human history, not that much. If I were doing a minimalist revision, I could probably get away with a couple of sentences. Since this is going to be a pretty boring blog if all I say is “not much would change in section III,” I’m going to go into two details which have changed: (1) rights versus utilitarianism, (2) vegan versus vegetarian. Continue reading “The Ethics of a Natural Foods Diet”

“Year of the Dog” — a good or a bad movie?

[Spoiler alert: in case you haven’t already seen the “Year of the Dog,” this article totally gives away the plot.]

"Year of the Dog" -- nice acting . . . but . .

“Year of the Dog” is a 2007 “dark comedy” about Peggy (played by Mollie Shannon), a young single woman and animal lover whose beloved pet dog dies. She becomes and stays vegan and becomes an activist. It comes highly recommended by some vegans. It is on the VegNews list of 10 must-see films. The portrayal of the central character is basically sympathetic; the screen writer is evidently a  near-vegan and intended the movie as sympathetic to veganism. Continue reading ““Year of the Dog” — a good or a bad movie?”

“Be the Change”: Did Gandhi really make this statement?

GandhiNOTE: I first published this on my web site on June 5, 2009, as a static file. I’ve now rather substantially changed my ideas on this subject; Arleen Lorrance is the author of the earliest written source of this saying, from 1971. But I include the present article in case people are interested in how I reached my conclusions.

One of the most widely-quoted aphorisms of Mahatma Gandhi is, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” But when, and where, did Gandhi make this statement? Or did he say it at all? Continue reading ““Be the Change”: Did Gandhi really make this statement?”