Tuesday, May 15, 2018

On "The Men and Women Like Him" by Amber Sparks (1772 words) ****

In "The Men and Women Like Him" the secret to time travel has been found. However, going back into the past would destroy the space-time continuum, so it's forbidden. This doesn't stop people from sneaking in to try to fix things and save lives. It is the job of another set of characters, called cleaners, to go back in time and stop these "do-gooders." Potentially a story about ethics, it remains too short to be anything more than a novel idea, but I suppose Sparks's goal here is more emotional--how restoring bad for "greater good" hurts. Read the story here at Guernica.

On "The 'Hellenization' of Judaea in the First Century after Christ" by Martin Hengel ***

This short follow-up to Hengel's earlier book on Judaism and Hellenism treads familiar ground but also provides a few new tidbits of information that relate directly to the New Testament--and Christianity.

As in the other book, Hengel discusses the importance of the Greek language and education, particularly to attaining social class. In the end, Hengel comes to the conclusion that what is "Greek" and what is "Jewish" is not easily separated. Indeed, as Hengel writes, "Not only Christianity but also rabbinic Judaism, which is different in so many other ways, basically rests on a synthesis."

Monday, May 14, 2018

On "Unmanageable" by Lucia Berlin (6 minutes) ****

The perils of a drunk (mother) are the subject of this story--how to get a drink so one can function and then get the kids off to school, all this before most liquor stores are open for the day. Listen to the story here at Soundcloud.

On "Judaism and Hellenism" by Martin Hengel ***


This technical book goes to great lengths to discuss just how Greek civilization affected Jewish culture and beliefs in the centuries before Rome's advance.

Hengel discusses how Greek culture impacted Jewish society before it even became an empire--largely through Greek mercenaries. Then he notes how Jewish mercenaries also brought into Jewish culture Greek ideas.

Then there was the language, which became essential to know if you were to be one of the upper class, as it became the lingua franca of the day.

Finally, there was education, which affected Jewish studies as well, even in ways in which Jewish thinkers tried to resist Greek influence. That resistance--the strength of it--was one effect. But even in that resistance, sometimes Greek ideas snuck in, in the form, for example, of formal education or in the idea that anyone could ascend to be a teacher through study and knowledge (as opposed to inherited familial limitations).

A large portion of the book devotes itself to how Greek thought affected Jewish writing. The author takes the position that Ecclesiastes, as well as some other wisdom books, was written after Greece took hold of the Promised Land and then traces the parallels in Greek philosophy to those books. I found this material less intriguing and, at times, ponderous. But the first half of the book provides a lot of information that I found very useful.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

On "Sugar" by Nelly Reifler (2220 words) ***

"Sugar" is the name of a girl's pet that she keeps locked inside a box, a box that her parents want her to get rid of. The trick here is that we never really learn what is in the box. Read the story here at Post Road.

On "Simon Magus: The First Gnostic?" by Stephen Haar ***


This book attempts to answer the question, Was Simon Magus really the first gnostic? To answer the question, Haar looks at different accounts of Magus, the different meanings of the words associated with him, and the critical views with regard to the various accounts about him. As for his own opinion on the subject--it stays nicely hidden until the last few pages. As such, one doesn't get much of a feeling of Magus himself; rather, one gets a nice summary of the related literature. I'd thought this typical of such studies in the first chapter, but it more or less continues throughout the book. As such, this is a great book for getting a full range of views on Magus, but such summary also makes for rather dull, if precise, reading.

As Haar notes, major problems with defining who Magus was include the fact that all of the writing about him is from his detractors and the fact that there is a large gap between the early accounts. First mentioned in Luke, he doesn't show up again for decades until he is called the father of all heresies by Justin Martyr. From there, his reputation spirals further down, until he is blamed for all kinds of odd practices.

Simon is called "Magus"--magi--a sorcerer. Haar explores what this might mean--or rather what it would have meant at the time. We tend to think of such people as magicians and soothsayers, but Haar shows how the magi were in a sense thinkers from Persia, priests of sorts. He also shows how "magic"--telling the future and such--was not always seen in a negative light.

Finally, he explores gnosticism itself and what it is. He shows how the meaning is hard to pin down. Eventually, he evaluates Simon as a gnostic in three different manners: (1) by the Messina convention, which created a formal definition for gnosticism, problematic as it is; (2) by the early Christian writers who defined who Simon was; and (3) by how Simon may have seen himself as far as Haar can tell/imagine based on the writings about him.

Monday, April 9, 2018

On "It Can't Be This Way Everywhere" by Carla Panciera (4991 words) ****

"It Can't Be This Way Everywhere" is about a woman who is tending to a prematurely aging husband, one who has Alzheimer's, even as she tends to small children and her own work. The discovery of feral cats in their garage lends her the opportunity to teach the children about responsibility and for her to see both the ways that her husband is still strong and the ways that he no longer is. Read the story here at Huffington Post.

On "The Keepers" by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles ***

This short introduction to Samaritan history and culture takes its reason for being from a collection of materials available at Michigan State University. The authors spend a couple of chapters on this collection, which is likely of interest to a few very devoted to these studies but which was not the heart of why I turned to this work. The reason I turned to this work was that I wanted a relatively short synopsis of Samaritan history, religion, and culture--and that, in its middle chapters, was exactly what this book supplied.

The Samaritans we know in scripture are a people despised by the Jewish people. Josephus and Kings essentially tell us that they consist of people injected into the land of Israel, the northern kingdom, after the Assyrians deported the northern ten tribes. Those people took on Jewish customs, after begging for a priest from the land, and merged them with their own. That's the story from the Jewish perspective.

The story from the Samaritan perspective is quite different. In their view, they stem from a conflict over the high priesthood that occurred shortly after Phinehas's demise. Eli, the son of Yafni tried to usurp the sons of Phinehas (Ozzi being high priest at the time). Eli's group moved to Shiloh and then eventually Jerusalem. Ozzi's group stayed at Shechem and Mount Gerizim, the original holy place.

Historical records of the sect begin to show up around the time that the Jewish people return from captivity in Babylon. Ezra, in shaping the Jewish scriptures, allowed in books beyond the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, and he condemned marriages between Jews and Samaritans, considering the latter essentially akin to Gentiles (though this tradition is largely an interpretation of Josephus--the biblical record does not explicitly mention the Samaritans in this context). Another thing Ezra did was promote Jerusalem as the center of worship.

It is when the Greeks take over the Promised Land that Samaritan consciousness really takes hold, and the sect enters history in its own light. Their separation from Judaism also becomes plain, as for example, the Maccabees rebel but the Samaritans do not, the latter not being considered of the same religion as the Maccabees. John Hyrcanus's attack on the group cemented their separation.

While the Jews and Samaritans did not get along during much of the early Roman period, the condition of the sect appears to have been one of general persecution throughout history, no matter which set of people were in charge. In the Christian era (after Constantine made Christianity the favored religion), Samaritans briefly had a respite in how they were treated because of Christian ideas about the "good Samaritan," but eventually they were blamed for gnosticism and persecuted by the Byzantines. When the Muslims took over, once again, there was a brief respite, until the Muslims decided that Samaritans did not qualify as "people of the book," unlike Jews and Christians, at which time they were taxed extra.

Today, Samaritans are often considered a sect of Judaism. Like followers of Judaism, they believe in circumcision, the keeping of the Sabbath, the biblical holy days, and the first five books of the Bible. However, they see Gerizim as the center of God's holy realm rather than Jerusalem and attach various biblical events to it just as Jews attach various biblical events to Jerusalem. They do not accept the rest of the Old Testament as scripture, and they have commentaries and other books (not considered part of their scriptures) that continue their story into Joshua's time. Their Pentateuch, while similar to the Jewish one, makes certain substitutions with regard to Gerizim as a place; it also is apparently closer to the Septuagint than to the Masoretic text. They believe in a Messiah to come, though he is seen primarily as a physical leader. They also, to this day, offer sacrifices. And the biblical holy days, finally, are on their own calendar separate from the Jewish calendar, the calculation of which only the priests know; thus Passover and the like may be celebrated at a slightly different time than it is in mainstream Judaism. They do not keep other Jewish days, such a Hanukkah or Purim.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

On "Carpe Diem" by Lucia Berlin (1268 words) ****

"Carpe Diem" makes much of a little. A woman goes to wash her clothes at the Laundromat but sticks her quarters in someone else's machines by mistake. Now she's out the money she need to dry her clothes, and the man whose laundry is now being washed twice it out an hour of his time, which leads to consternation and anger all around. Read the story here at Flavorwire.

On "The Wars of the Jews" by Josephus ***

The ancient history book still reads relatively well, though in sections I had trouble focusing on what was going on. This is in part because several parts include people with similar names, making it difficult to remember which person is which; because Josephus has a preachy agenda in places that gets away from the facts of the story; and because Josephus uses generous quotes from speeches as a rhetorical device.

The latter has its good and bad points. First among the bad, of course, is the fact that the speeches are simply a rhetorical device--not probably real. Second is that those speeches take away from the action or repeat points already made. However, one good thing about the speeches is that they provide a kind of window (even if fictionalized via Josephus himself) into the point of view of the particular historical actor. This is important when otherwise the point of view is largely Josephus's own, which can be rather skewed and biased for or against certain parties.

The story itself largely involves that of the recent war between the Romans and Jews in which Jerusalem and its temple are destroyed. For this tale, Josephus returns us back to Maccabees and the eventual rise of Herod the Great. But as the narrative continues, more and more focus is placed on the so-called "robbers"--a group of miscreants, in Josephus's view, who foment rebellion against the Romans.

What's perhaps most interesting about the history is how much of it focuses on Josephus himself and how self-serving the history appears to be. I've read around Josephus quite a bit, but actually reading his work through, I was surprised how central he becomes to the action in the second half of the book.

At first, he himself is one of these rebels, though I don't think he ever calls himself a robber. He seems somewhat central to the movement, and people in one particular town really look to him for leadership in the war against the Romans. In order not to trouble the town (as the Romans are largely after him), Josephus volunteers to leave, but the people won't have it. They want to stick by him.

But then one day, he says that he had a dream from God. In it, God tells him that he put the Romans in charge and that the Jews should surrender. The people won't hear of it. They opt to kill themselves so as not to fall under the cruelties of the Roman guard (which Josephus denotes are not cruel--that they will have mercy). The people draw lots to see who will do the killing of the community--Josephus ends up being one of them.

In the end, the community is killed, and rather than killing himself, Josephus surrenders. He is treated well by the Romans. And then he becomes their voice to try to get the rebellious Jews to see reason and to surrender. Throughout, then, Josephus talks of how terrible these various rebels are, how destructive, how they pollute the temple, how they kill their own people. He promotes the Romans as merciful, and yet he also describes crucifixions and the taking of prisoners and the use of them as gladiators and feed for wild beasts in the arena. I didn't come away feeling the Romans were all that nice. What I did feel was sorrow for those caught in the middle of all of this--likely to be killed by other Jews if not supportive enough or by Romans if caught.

The text can be read here at Project Gutenberg.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

On "Caught Up" by Jamie Quatro (964 words) ***

The lead story in Quatro's first collection is a short one about a woman whose phone affair with a stranger and advice from her mother leads to a less-than-satisfactory end. It's a startling piece in some ways, because the wife opens by talking about the many things she loves about her husband. I was left wondering why she would dally with another man--and on the phone at that. What is it that her husband lacks? Read the story here at Tin House.

On "The Zealots" by Martin Hengel ****

This excellent summation of the zealot movement from the time of Herod I to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 A.D. provides a full assessment of who the zealots were and what made them tick. 

The first point to ponder is who they were. Since Josephus rarely uses the term, we're left with some questions as to who constituted the party. More often, Josephus refers to such peoples as robbers; "zealot" is more narrowly applied to a sect of the freedom movement in the last five years before 70 A.D. But Hengel shows that there are good reasons to think of the Zealot movement as existing for much longer, going back to the time of Judas the Galilean, whose rebellion Josephus covers in detail. This group, Josephus says, adhere to the "fourth philosophy." For much of its existence, it likely consisted of small bands of guerilla fighters.

Judas the Galilean (so-called because he was likely from Galilee but did his work in Judea) was close to a radical wing of Pharisees. "Separation" for them meant accepting the "sole rule of God." The claims of all other rulers were to be shunned. The job of the Israelites was to throw off these other rulers. If they did so, God would bless them, because of their zeal, helping them to overcome the other rulers and establish a kingdom ruled by God. When Judas was killed, other family members took over his movement, which would eventually culminate in the events of 70 A.D.

Hengel covers the full history, as well as various concepts of zeal. It's a lot to take in. The book is great as a reference, if very scholarly, but it does not have a strong argument at its center. This is, in many ways refreshing, insofar as Hengel doesn't seem to make any boldly ridiculous claims, but it also makes for a slightly drier and less summarizable text.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

On "Tiger Bites" by Lucia Berlin (6512 words) ****

I found the narrator of this story--in fact, the whole family--to be irritating. She's a young woman, married too young, whose husband has run off, and she's hanging out with another family member who's done the same, in preparation for a family reunion. But in the midst of this, Berlin manages to take us to a Mexican abortion ward, a portion of the tale that is so well told and described, it makes the story well worth the effort to read. Read the story here at Literary Hub.

On "Nazarene Jewish Christianity" by Ray A. Pritz ***

This short but very much scholarly study traces the existence of the Nazarenes, a group of Jewish Christians mostly in Jerusalem who have a few mentions in various early historical works before disappearing. Often, they are mixed up with the Ebionites, but Pritz makes the case for them being a separate group--to wit, the Ebionites did not accept the divinity of Jesus, while the Nazarenes did. Making matters even more confusing is the fact that there are more than one set of Ebionites referenced in literature, some seeming to be Nazarenes.

Pritz studies out the early Christian sources and also the source of the name (Jesus was born in Nazareth; the name is used a couple times in scripture [once in Matthew and once in Acts]; the name appears to have been applied by outsiders rather than by the peoples themselves; it is possibly the fulfillment of prophecy but the fulfillment is obscure--possibly to a scripture in Isaiah, as the root of Nazarene and Nazarite, according to Pritz, appear different).

The study becomes most interesting in the chapters on Epiphanius and Jerome. The former wrote a long description of the Nazarenes in his work Panarian, not to be confused with a non-Christian Jewish sect of similar name about whom he also writes. Jerome claims to have come across Nazarenes in his journeys in Palestine, though it is uncertain whether he is referring to personal acquaintance or just coming across their works. He translated parts of the Gospel to the Hebrews, which he says they used, into Latin. Though they kept Jewish traditions, they were apparently not rejecters of Paul's writings and had much negative to say about the rabbinic Judaism.

After this, Pritz turns to later Christian writers, finding evidence that the Nazarenes likely existed into the third and maybe the fourth and fifth centuries. Most writers earlier accepted them as Christians, and thus that is one reason they are so little mentioned, but later writers considered them heretical, which is how they begin to show up in history.

Appendixes cover the supposed location of the Nazarenes and the question of whether the Pella tradition has any basis in reality. It was questioned by S. G. F. Brandon, who claimed that the Jerusalem Christians could not have escaped to Pella because Romans or Zealots would have killed them on the way, and once they got there, the inhabitants, who had been raided by Jews four years earlier, would have attacked them. Pritz notes that no one questioned the tradition before Brandon, that Josephus actually accounts for others escaping and may have had reasons to claim few did (to show up evil of zealots, power of Rome, etc.), and that no all places that were raided by the Jews reacted negatively to those Jews who lived there, who in some cases defended against the raids. Furthermore, Pella may have had Christian residents already who would have been more than willing to take in refugees.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On "Even Crazy Old Barmaids Need Love" by Peter Meinke (3465 words) ***

This tale from Meinke's The Piano Tuner collection recounts the lives of several patrons at a bar--and most specifically, an unlikely pair, an old barmaid and an accidental mid-aged actor. What I found most interesting about this story, however, is the account of how the bar changes under new ownership and how the owner makes that happen; it seemed the account of someone who had reconfigured a bar himself. Read the story here at the Orlando Sentinel.

On "Jesus and First-Century Christianity in Jerusalem" by Elizabeth McNamer and Bargil Pixner ***

Written at a very basic and simplistic level, this book is both wonderful and dangerous. It is wonderful because it provides such a simple synopsis. It is dangerous, however, because the authors are believers in a controversial theory that is not so basic or widely accepted as the simple text would make a person believe.

That idea espoused is that the first-century Christians were, in fact, derived from Essenes--in fact, in many ways were Essenes, the isolationist ascetics behind the creation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The basis for this idea comes from several parallels in belief as well as the proximity of several archeological locations in Jerusalem. The arguments are in some ways persuasive, but part of that persuasion is in the way the information is provided, almost as if the ideas are foregone conclusions that most scholars take for granted.

These ideas cause the authors to propose that Jesus's trial was on a Wednesday, with the Passover meal on a Tuesday night, and his death on a Friday, with a resurrection on Sunday morning. The reason for this is that Essenes always apparently kept Passover on a Wednesday, following a 364-day solar calendar that apparently predated the lunar calendar that the authors says was put into Judaism during the Babylonian captivity. Since the trial could not take place at night (because of Jewish law), it is obvious that it must have taken place on Thursday. My understanding is that that the trial was not exactly by strict Jewish rules, however, which thus would not have precluded a night meeting. And the idea that the calendar was solar before Judah went to Babylon seems specious, since much is made in the Old Testament of the new moon as the means by which to calculate the various Jewish holy days, even in the historical books.

According to the authors, because Acts 6:7 says that priests joined the Christian sect and because the Sadducees were adamantly opposed to Christianity, and Pharisees weren't priest, the priests had to be Essenes. The argument here relies on various assumptions--that no Sadducee could or would accept Jesus, that no Pharisee was a priest, and Essene priests were welcome and served at the actual temple (when what I know of them suggests that they conducted their own religious rites separate from what they considered the polluted temple). But it is these kinds of ideas that are presented as nearly foregone conclusions, while similarities, such as both groups using lots to make a decision, are also pointed to as clear proofs of their being the same, rather than just being similarities among two Jewish groups (after all, lots were a customary way to make certain decisions in the Old Testament).

Another assumption the writers make is that the believers met every Sabbath in a synagogue for worship services of a sort, and then again on Sunday for Eucharist. I don't know the basis on which they make such claims, and without citation notes, it's impossible to find out (from another source, I'm guessing their source in Eusebius 3.27.3-6).

One thing I liked about the simple presentation, however, was the way in which in a matter of a mere one hundred or so pages, the authors were able to weave together so much Roman and Jewish history with the history of the Jerusalem church itself, giving readers a good feel for the events that affected the local congregation.

One interesting idea that authors have is that the Ebionites were the first schism from the Jerusalem Christians. I would figure the group would have been forged after the destruction of the temple and the disappointment over Jesus's failure to return at that time; this would have caused them to see Jesus as a mere prophet rather than as divine and to keep on with their Jewish traditions. But the authors see the Ebionite as forming before the temple's destruction. Rather, they claim, that a certain man name Thabuti (mentioned in Josephus and Hegesippus), who was apparently James the brother of Jesus's assistant (and of course, in these authors' reckoning, an Essene priest), expected to become head of the church after James's death; when Simon, Jesus's brother or cousin, was chosen instead, Thabuti left the group, taking followers with him, and these would become the Ebionites. I will need to read more on this subject.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

On "Stars and Saints" by Lucia Berlin (3188 words) ****

A girl from a Protestant family goes to a Catholic school, because her parents want to keep her away from the "not-so-nice" immigrant kids at the neighborhood school. But the consequences for the girl are loneliness, since she doesn't fit in with the other girls at the school. As such, she begins to find herself interested more and more in the nuns themselves and dreams of becoming one of them. Read the story here.

On "Jerusalem" by Karen Armstrong ***

This basic history of the city runs from its known existence before becoming capital of ancient Israel to its current existence as capital of modern Israel. I picked it up chiefly for chapters 5-8, which cover the period from Jerusalem's resettlement by the Jewish people in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah to its destruction and re-creation as the city of Aelia Capitolina. These latter of these few chapters were excellent in giving a summary of the events; the former got caught up a bit too much, in my view, with concepts of the temple as exists in Ezekiel and other locations.

Having read the sections I had the most interest in, I backed up to the start of the book, wherein Jerusalem was conquered by David. The city was, before then, a Jebusite town. And in fact, after David's conquering, it continued to be a Jebusite city, for he did not kill off its inhabitants. Armstrong sees many Jebusite ideas and beliefs as seeping into the Jewish faith at this time. In fact, Armstrong tends to view all faiths as sort of blending into one another, as I would expect, since she is a historian essentially of comparative religion--or at least this is how I've long viewed her work.

As such, it was interesting to read biblical events as explained by a largely secular historian, who sees the role of God as one largely of cultural interpretation. The deliverance of Jerusalem in the time of Hezekiah, thus, is not a miracle but a case of luck: that the plague just happens to catch up with the Assyrian forces when they are on the verge of total victory.

Similarly, the Jewish and Israeli people are not really one from well before the time they split up after Solomon's reign. Armstrong brings out how David moved the capital to Jerusalem, probably, because it was more centrally located and "new," thus not giving the feel of Judah having "taken over" Israel. Solomon's excessive taxes of Israel both in money and labor are what drive Israel away, and Rehoboam's intention to maintain said system are what seals the deal. Israel is the stronger nation, and of course, it creates its own holy place to avoid being linked to Judah.

From there, Armstrong covers the familiar material I was looking for a nice summary of, until, of course, Rome obliterates Jerusalem and outlaws Jews from entering it. This policy weakens and strengthens over time, but eventually the Jewish people are prevented from entering Jerusalem due to Christian animosity to them.

Ironically, given today's situation, it is the Muslims who essentially open Jerusalem to the Jewish people again, though the Muslims do end up building a mosque on the Temple Mount that will prevent any rebuilding of a temple in the same location again. The Crusades once again close the city off to those of other faiths, and when the Muslims retake it, rather than seeking revenge, as they desire to do, they give in to pleads for mercy and let the Christians walk. (The Christians, who earlier had eschewed the idea of holy places then started to reverse that trend, which seems so with each group that takes the city.)

During all these times, various sites are newly associated with old events--this is where Abraham did this, where David lived or was buried, where Christ did this, where Mary did that, and so on. Some of these places well might be legitimate, passed on via generations by people who knew, but most appear to have been invented for various idealistic reasons. It makes one question history within the city.

Eventually, the Muslims are overtaken by Byzantium and the Turks (themselves Muslim), who are overtaken by the British, who finally concede the land to the Zionist movement. The latter is helped to fruition by Hitler, as Jews escape Europe to the Holy Land. Even then, the intention was not necessarily to take Jerusalem but to share it, but war with Jordan and Egypt essentially put Israel in charge of the city, and interest holders who earlier saw no reason for a retaking of the city, who had learned to practice Judaism in diaspora and accept it as such, now viewed it as God-given and essential to the faith. Tensions have remained ever since, even within Israel--with some seeing no reason to share the city with those of other faiths and some quite the opposite.

This is where, in essence, Armstrong lays down her thesis, her final points: That the city is most at peace when communities are tolerant of other faiths, as in the time of David or some periods of Muslim rule.

Monday, January 22, 2018

On "Here" by Jamie Quatro (about 4500 words) ***

This story recounts a family trip to a cabin. It's a trip made regularly, but this is the first time that the family's mother, who has died, is not with the members of the family. The dad in the story attempts to come to peace with his new role. Read the story here.

On "The Fate of the Apostles" by Sean McDowell ****

In this book McDowell looks to see what the various viewpoints with regard to the deaths of the apostles are and how likely accurate it is that they actually died as martyrs for the faith. The point that he makes is that their deaths show the sincerity of their views and help us discern to what extent the resurrection of Jesus Christ was real, at least in the minds of those who claimed to have witnessed his resurrected self. For as McDowell denotes, people do not go to their deaths for a con.

Thus, he creates a table of possibilities with regard to their deaths and the historicity of those accounts, ranging from most likely true to most likely false, and he finds that with the most famous "most likely true" is what we can accept and with those less famous we can see the accounts as "as likely true as not."

Most interesting of all, though, is his account of just how important the resurrection is to Christian theology. It was on this basis that the twelve apostles preached the divinity of Jesus and that they faced death as they did. Christianity was a resurrection sect, McDowell notes.

The individual accounts are workmanlike but very informative. For each apostle, plus Paul and James the brother of Jesus, McDowell recounts the legends and historical records regarding where they went or are said to have gone; then he recounts the various martyrdom narratives that surround the individual; finally he evaluates the reliability of said narratives and what this says about the possibility that the apostles actually died as part of their witness. (If I were going to criticize McDowell's argument at all, it would be in his assumption that because no legend shows any apostle as having recanted on threat of death, none left off believing. He doesn't take into account the possibility that an apostle might simply wander off after a time--no recantation necessary. This is not to say that I think this is what happened to those whose trail seems to disappear; it is simply to say that arguments from silence aren't necessarily the most compelling.)

As for where the apostles went, the theories for many run far and wide. Some would seem to be in contradiction with another, and a number arise from rather late traditions. Still, that the apostles scattered and that some traveled into Africa and India and Britain (and back) seems quite possible, given the actual conditions of the time, as McDowell shows.

This is an excellent reference. Would that there were a reasonably priced paperback available for individuals, rather than just the high-priced hardcover intended for scholarly libraries.