In a previous email I mentioned that I had started writing my trade book on Revelation, tentatively titled Expecting Armaggedon.  Over the past couple of months I have been reflecting on how my approach to writing books like this has changed over time.  I talked about my basic procedure a few years ago on the blog:   The basic line is that I typically spend a couple of years doing the research and making very detailed outlines of the book, chapter by chapter, and then a short amount of time writing it.

The process I described there still holds for the most part (it’s a process that I’ve tried to convince every single graduate student I’ve ever had to follow, and every single one of them has decided not to!) (to their advantage, often…)   But I’ve changed my approach to the writing itself.

As I recently mentioned, my first trade book was Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.  Once that was finished, I decided (again) to move back to hard-core scholarly writing.  But a publisher convinced me to do a book on how we got the canon of the New Testament, these twenty-seven books and not others.  I had long been interested in that issue, ever since my first PhD seminar with Bruce Metzger, and had long thought that most discussions of the matter (including Prof. Metzger’s) did not focus enough on the really important issue, of the various forms of Christianity found throughout the second and third centuries, and their use of various “authoritative” texts.  The decision of which books to include was largely a result of choosing the “correct” authorities and leaving “bad” ones out of the canon.

So I wrote the book, Lost Christianities: The Battles For Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew.  Sarah, my wife and arbiter of taste, has always thought it is my best trade book.  I’ve always disagreed.  In my view the best I’ve written is always the most recent.  I’ve thought that every time….

Following form, I decided  Lost Christianities would be my last trade book.  But then Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code appeared.  I rather liked it as a page-turner (in contrast to literally all my friends) but I really could not believe how

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