As I have done before, I would like to offer blog members an opportunity to read a draft of my forthcoming book in exchange for a major blog donation.

Many of you know that I’ve been spent the last four years working on a scholarly monograph that will be related to, but completely different from, my recently published trade book, Heaven and Hell.  I have just finished the draft and am sending it out to experts to read for comments, before preparing the final copy for the press.  (It is to be published by Yale University Press.)   I’m not sure of the title yet, but just now I’m calling it “Journeys to Heaven and Hell in the Early Christian Tradition.”

It’s a scholarly book, not directed mainly to a popular audience.  It focuses on several texts not well known to the general populace and, frankly, not even to most scholars (even NT scholars, the vast majority of whom have never read these texts, let alone studied them): The Apocalypse of Peter, the Apocalypse of Paul, the Acts of Thomas, and the Gospel of Nicodemus, all of them in relation to each other but also to similar tours of the afterlife in Greek, Roman, and Jewish sources.  They all narrate a visit to the realms of the dead by a mortal, who then gets outta there, usually to tell the tale.  Some of them involve Near Death Experiences.  Others are set up differently.  My thesis in the book is that these accounts were never really meant to be purely instructional – giving factual information about what it is like down there and up there – but were always meant to put life into perspective and to encourage certain attitudes, beliefs, perspectives, lifestyles, ethics, etc.  They all do so  differently from one other.

Even though it’s a scholarly book, I have written it to be accessible to layfolk as well.  I’ve translated all the Greek and Latin, generally not gone crazy on the jargon, and explained things that wouldn’t be obvious to most regular folk.  And so, in addition to expert opinions that I’ve solicited, I would like some non-expert opinion as well.  Not hundreds of opinions, but a few.

So here’s the deal.  For a donation of $1000 to the blog – every bit of which will go directly to charity — I’ll allow anyone on the blog to read the manuscript and make comments on it.  Or just to read it without making comments.   As I understand such recondite matters, the donation would be tax deductible.

I know it’s a lot of dosh.  Most people would not be interested anyway; and most of those who are would prefer not shelling out the money, thank you very.  But if you are and you would, here’s your chance!

Do not reply as a comment here on the blog.  Send me a private email at behrman@email.unc.edu, and I’ll send you an electronic copy of the manuscript.