Here’s a unique opportunity.

Well, it’s not unique because it’s one you’ve had before.  But you get it now again!

As most of you probably know, I’m now finishing up my book on the afterlife.   The title won’t be decided for a very long time, but at this point ’m rather liking “Heaven, Hell, and the Invention of the Afterlife.”   The basic question I address is where the widespread views of heaven and hell came from, that when you die your soul goes to one place or the other.  I will be arguing that this is not a view taught in the Old Testament or by Jesus himself.  So why did it become the dominant view?  Throughout history, the vast majority of Christians believed it; even today, 72% of Americans believe in a literal heaven and 58% in a literal hell.  So where did it come from?

The book is virtually finished.  I’m doing the final edits now – today in fact, barring natural disaster (such as, well, a visit from Florence).   I will be sending it out to a number of scholar-friends who have graciously agreed to read it – scholars in Ancient Near East (I’m dealing with Gilgamesh), Greek and Roman Religion, Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Early Christianity.   And … possibly you!

This is where opportunity is knocking.  I would like to use this moment to raise some extra funds for the blog.

So here’s the (possible) deal.   I will give anyone who is willing to donate $1000 to the blog  the opportunity to read my draft of the book and make comments on it.  I will then consider the comments as I make further revisions, prior to submitting the book to my publisher.  (I did this with my last book if you recall; and I found it extremely useful.)   If you do this, I will acknowledge you by name in the Acknowledgements in the book.

This is a win-win-win situation, if you have the funds that make it possible.  You get to see the book before it goes into production; I get the benefits of your insights; and most important, we raise more money for the charities that the blog supports.  No one loses!

So, are you interested?   I would get the book to you electronically in the next day or so, barring Hurricane-induced-computer-failure, and I would like your comments back to me in a month at the latest.   All it would take would be a donation on your part in advance.

Everyone who is interested, let me know, not here by way of a comment on the blog, but in a personal email, to [email protected].  Everyone who is not interested, well, you’ll need to wait sixteen months or so before you see the book in published form!   And hopefully none of us will be a seasoned expert on the afterlife by then!