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Rights

John Dunn, 2 October 1980

Natural Rights Theories 
by Richard Tuck.
Cambridge, 192 pp., £10.50, December 1979, 0 521 22512 4
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Natural Law and Natural Rights 
by John Finnis.
Oxford, 425 pp., £15, February 1980, 0 19 876110 4
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A Discourse on Property 
by James Tully.
Cambridge, 208 pp., £10.50, July 1980, 0 521 22830 1
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... some of the great political thinkers are commonly seen. His two main heroes are Hugo Grotius and John Selden. In historical range and intellectual suppleness, this is an enormously gifted book. But it is also in the last instance curiously ungenerous to the reader – offhand and introverted, as though by its close the author had simply lost interest in ...

Where’s Esther?

Robert Alter: The Dead Sea Scrolls, 12 September 2013

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography 
by John Collins.
Princeton, 272 pp., £16.95, October 2012, 978 0 691 14367 5
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The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea 
by Joan Taylor.
Oxford, 418 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 19 955448 5
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... they are invariably more authoritative, but they certainly demonstrate that around the turn of the Christian era there was a degree of fluidity in the textual status of the books that would soon become canonical. Other texts found at Qumran open a window on a variety of Judaism at this pivotal moment of which we had hitherto no more than glimpses. The texts ...

Bible Stories

John Barton, 16 February 1989

The Book of God: A Response to the Bible 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Yale, 350 pp., £18.95, November 1988, 0 300 04320 1
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Who wrote the Bible? 
by Richard Elliott Friedman.
Cape, 299 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 224 02573 2
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... is ours and no one else’s. The Book of God Most ways of reading the Bible within the Judaeo-Christian tradition have been, in the sense deplored by Kierkegaard, Hegelian. From the vantage – point offered by a theology which claims to ‘make sense’ of human history, the life of the individual and the divine plan for all created things, believers ...

Hot Dogs

Malcolm Bull, 14 June 1990

Mine eyes have seen the glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America 
by Randall Balmer.
Oxford, 246 pp., $19.95, September 1989, 0 19 505117 3
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In God’s Country: Travels in the Bible Belt, USA 
by Douglas Kennedy.
Unwin Hyman, 240 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 04 440423 9
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The Divine Supermarket 
by Malise Ruthven.
Chatto, 336 pp., £14.95, August 1989, 0 7011 3151 9
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The Democratisation of American Christianity 
by Nathan Hatch.
Yale, 312 pp., £22.50, November 1989, 0 300 44470 2
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Religion and 20th-Century American Intellectual Life 
edited by Michael Lacey.
Cambridge/Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars, 214 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 521 37560 6
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New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America 
by Mary Farrell Bednarowski.
Indiana, 175 pp., $25, November 1989, 0 253 31137 3
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... through the evangelical sub-culture of America. Their narratives abound with the exploits of Christian stunt women, Christian tee-shirt salesmen, Christian heavy metallists, Christian weight-watchers and ...

Time Lords

Anthony Grafton: In the Catacombs, 31 July 2014

Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs 
by Paul Koudounaris.
Thames and Hudson, 189 pp., £18.95, September 2013, 978 0 500 25195 9
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... 31 May 1578, vineyard workers on the Via Salaria in Rome found a tunnel which led them to an early Christian burial site. They had opened the catacombs: the vast network of passages cut through the volcanic tuff outside Rome in which thousands of Christians, as well as Jews and pagans, were buried. The vineyard workers were not the first to spelunk in these ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen, 11 October 2018

... in Hollywood; H.L. Mencken, who came under suspicion for his German background during both wars; John O’Hara, whose many failures included a job application to the fledgling CIA). The book’s editors, JPat Brown, B.C.D. Lipton and Michael Morisy, founded and run the website MuckRock, where anyone can file a Freedom of Information Act request with the US ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: The Trump Regime, 1 December 2016

... the campaign and have now come in from the cold. These include Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, John Bolton and Sarah Palin. All of them are touted as potential cabinet appointees but all of them have enemies among the Republicans in the Senate who could block their bids for office and return them to permanent vacation as back-up commentators on Fox ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Head Shot’, 24 May 2012

... Edgar Hoover, Castro, Khrushchev, Howard Hunt, Earl Warren, George H.W. Bush, Duong Van Minh, the John Birch Society, the Freemasons or Aristotle Onassis. ‘I am not a conspiracy theorist,’ he begins. ‘I am a conspiracy empiricist.’ He wants to know the truth because without it ‘another president could once more be cut down in his or her ...

Bang-Bang, Kiss-Kiss

Christian Lorentzen: Bond, 3 December 2015

Spectre 
directed by Sam Mendes.
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The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters 
edited by Fergus Fleming.
Bloomsbury, 391 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6547 7
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Ian Fleming: A Personal Memoir 
by Robert Harling.
Robson, 372 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 84 95493 65 1
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... in a Bond film or is it an allusion to, say, the opening of For Your Eyes Only, in which Blofeld (John Hollis) traps Bond (Moore) in a remote-controlled helicopter until Bond takes control of it, scoops up Blofeld’s wheelchair with the chopper’s leg and dumps him down a chimney? (This was Bond at peak camp; before the big drop Blofeld begs: ‘We can do a ...

The Family Biden

Christian Lorentzen, 6 January 2022

... arranged for Jill Biden to pay a visit to a Coke job-training programme in Brazil, joined Joe and John Kerry for the unveiling of the Coke-sponsored 2014 World Cup trophy, and tagged along with Jill as part of a government delegation to Cuba, which happens to be one of only two countries in the world where Coke can’t be bought or sold (the other is North ...

Blackberry Apocalypse

Nicholas Guyatt: Evangelical Disarray, 15 November 2007

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America 
by Chris Hedges.
Cape, 254 pp., £12.99, February 2007, 978 0 224 07820 7
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... Liberty in 1971 as a private religious college and it played an important role in nurturing Christian causes, from the pro-life movement to Bible prophecy. It was the more embarrassing, then, that a Liberty student was arrested at Falwell’s funeral with homemade bombs in his car. He told police he’d brought them just in case liberal protesters ...

Ripe for Conversion

Paul Strohm: Chaucers’s voices, 11 July 2002

Pagans, Tartars, Muslims and Jews in Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ 
by Brenda Deen Schildgen.
Florida, 184 pp., £55.50, October 2001, 0 8130 2107 3
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... of the great ‘samers’ of the later Middle Ages was the 14th-century travel writer known as Sir John Mandeville. Written close to home, somewhere in France, his vivid and readable travelogue is nonetheless animated by encounters with the unknown and unexpected: cyclopes, jewel-bearing vines, sheep the size of oxen, people who live under water and the ...

Being on top

John Ryle, 20 February 1986

Sexual Desire 
by Roger Scruton.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.95, February 1986, 9780297784791
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The History of Sexuality. Vol. II: The Use of Pleasure 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Pantheon, 293 pp., $17.95, December 1985, 0 394 54349 1
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Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times 
by Philippe Ariès and André Béjin, translated by Anthony Forster.
Blackwell, 220 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 9780631134763
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No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States since 1880 
by Allan Brandt.
Oxford (New York), 245 pp., £18.50, August 1985, 0 19 503469 4
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Jealousy 
by Nancy Friday.
Collins, 593 pp., £12.95, January 1986, 0 00 217587 8
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... late 17th and the 18th century, with antecedents in the specialised confessional disciplines of Christian monastic life. He discerned in the age of reason a new, sinister shift of interest to the sexuality of children and ‘the relationships between sexual behaviour, normality and health’. But in the present volume, the second, which did not appear until ...

Did It Happen on 9 April?

Frank Kermode, 20 March 2008

The Resurrection 
by Geza Vermes.
Penguin, 168 pp., £7.99, March 2008, 978 0 14 103005 0
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... often took the form of amended or interpolated narrative. A well-known example is the early Christian interpretation of the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah, and the way so much that happens in the gospels is said to be ‘according to the Scriptures’. James Kugel, in his book The Bible as It Was, shows that Old Testament interpretation sometimes ...

All he does is write his novel

Christian Lorentzen: Updike, 5 June 2014

Updike 
by Adam Begley.
Harper, 558 pp., £25, April 2014, 978 0 06 189645 3
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... I had​ this foresight,’ John Updike’s mother, Linda, once told a journalist, ‘that if I married his father the results would be amazing.’ Was Updike amazing? In the most simple terms, which were the ones he favoured, he was an exemplary American success story: a child of the Depression who passed from a hardscrabble youth through the halls of the meritocracy to become a rich man on the earnings of his fiction ...

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