Robert M. Price - The Paperback Apocalypse

March 7, 2008

Robert M. Price is professor of theology and scriptural studies at Coleman Theological Seminary and professor of Biblical Criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute. He’s a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and the Jesus Seminar. Dr. Price is the author of a number of books such as The Reason Driven Life, Deconstructing Jesus, Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, and The Da Vinci Fraud. He has appeared widely in the media, and was featured prominently in the movie The God Who Wasn’t There. His latest book is The Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Bob Price discusses his new book The Paperback Apocalypse, detailing both the origins of the belief in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and the influence of this belief in fiction. He touches upon the wide array of apocalyptic novels, including The Omen, Stephen King's The Stand, and Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series, offering both literary and theological criticism. He also explores the psychological appeal of such apocalyptic novels.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:

Gospel Fictions Randel Helms

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Robert M. Price

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Comments from the CFI Forums

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You have to wonder why this doomsday belief appeals to Americans who enjoy a materially decent life. America bucks the trend where rising living standards correlelate with reduced religiosity:

Posted on Mar 07, 2008 at 12:19pm by AdvancedAtheist Comment #1

They forgot to include alcohol consumption. If not god, than booze. Except perhaps in Japan where many (I think up to 60% of the population) don’t have the good old gene to help them to dissolve alcohol.

Posted on Mar 07, 2008 at 2:26pm by George Comment #2

The alcohol doesn’t seem to hurt them:

Statistics of the Human Development Index

Posted on Mar 07, 2008 at 2:35pm by AdvancedAtheist Comment #3

The alcohol doesn’t seem to hurt them

No, it helps them to forget. :-)

Posted on Mar 07, 2008 at 2:55pm by George Comment #4

Mark, interesting graph. Do you know the source?

I guess the GPD is adjusted by the Power Purchase Parity, right?. Because the Argentina per capita GDP is below 10k U.S. dollars.

Also, I’d like to know how they measured the religiosity because I see a couple of counterintuitive positions ( based on my perceptions, of course).  For instance, I wouldn’t say that argentina is less religious than the US: until 1994, the argentina’s president should be catholic and the constitution declared that the goverment supports/mantains (the spanish word used is ambigous) the catholic church.

Posted on Mar 07, 2008 at 7:13pm by Barto Comment #5

Mark, interesting graph. Do you know the source?

“The coming religious peace”

Posted on Mar 07, 2008 at 7:51pm by AdvancedAtheist Comment #6

I’ve always enjoyed listening to Bob.  He’s great and gives me a good laugh every now and then. Glad to have him on PoI again.  :)

Posted on Mar 07, 2008 at 10:54pm by Mriana Comment #7

Good episode.  My Sunday morning ritual is to synch my iPod and then listen to PoI while doing my household chores. This one was worth listening to, and he had me laughing out loud a couple of times as I listened to his infectious joy at all the fun he’s had reading volume after volume of loopy, gonzo, horribly-written End Times fiction.

Posted on Mar 10, 2008 at 2:44am by steveg144 Comment #8

Very interesting episode.

I’m disappointed to find that none of Price’s books are available on Audible, though!  I’ll have to request some of them.

Posted on Mar 10, 2008 at 11:43am by mrtim Comment #9

Half of my family are fundamentalist/pentecostal adherents and subscribe whole-heartedly to the vision espoused by LeHay and others of his ilk. It is not uncommon for them to end a heated discussion about global politics (especially anything related to Israel) with a statement like, “well it’s okay because Jesus is coming back soon!” Price did a good job of relating one of the more difficult issues eschatalogically-minded Christians have to wrestle with when it comes to the veracity of scripture, namely the notion that Jesus was to return soon after his death. As a former believer I always found the interpretive gymnastics theologians utilized to get around this seeming contradiction to be more than a bit disarming. Of course the constant battle over pre, mid, or post-tibulation rapture also bore considerable evidence that the doctors of Christian spin were woefully divided about what scripture says regarding this issue. Having heard Dr. Price on Point of Inquiry I am compelled to check out his book (and maybe others of his) that might help me to better address some of the history and controversy regarding eschatology/last days issues with my still believing friends. Good show.

BTW, I live not too far from Hageeland so this issue hits close to home. I’ve been wanting to sit in on that raging butterball of BS for some time now just to riff off the utter lunacy of his theology in person. I can only imagine it to be a surreal experience in the least.


Posted on Mar 12, 2008 at 3:27pm by Comrade Sarkov Comment #10

I thought the Bob Price segment was great.  He’s a lively radio presence.  As a result of the show, I purchased “The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man,” which I’m about 1/3 of the way through.

I’m a bit bothered by the whole concept of textual criticism; it seems so….unscientific.  For instance, Bob casually throws around sentences like “Matthew probably got the story from….” or “Luke probably meant .......”  Upon what is he basing the word “probably”?  Seems pretty subjective to me.  I translate the word “probably” to mean “sounds plausible”.  :-)  I can’t really tell much difference between what he does and what a Sunday school preacher does, speculation offered as near-fact.  Do these people actually form hypotheses and then make falsifiable predictions like real scientists?

Posted on Mar 21, 2008 at 5:51pm by Taylor Comment #11