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If Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens are The Four Horsemen; then, Diana Agorio is The Whore of Babylon. She began her studies of West Asia as a Conservative Christian kid in Alaska. After living in Israel; then, traveling and studying ancient history for the last 25+ years, she ended up a Liberal Atheist. But, unlike many other Atheist critics of religion, Diana knows and loves the ancient cultures which invented the Abrahamic faiths. No theist can accuse her of reading the Bible like a fundamentalist. She has an in depth knowledge of the political and economic environment which shaped the minds of the Biblical authors. The first rule of historical research is to “know thy author.” The Four Horsemen make valid criticisms of religion in general; but, they lack the expertise to produce an expose of the ancient origins of the Bible.
Diana graduated magna cum laude with a BS in History. Her primary fascination is with the cultures of the Bronze Age and Iron Age Levant. But, she is a generalist with historical interests ranging from Sumer, to Anatolia, to Egypt, to Greece, and Rome. Her methodology is based on meme theory, following changes in cultures as fashions, avoiding racial descriptions. This method provides a powerful new understanding of ancient peoples, describing their evolution in dynamic terms, rather than as static ethnicities. Diana makes extensive use of primary source material and cites experts in the fields of Archaeology, theological studies, and Art History in scholarly journals and peer reviewed books.
Her goal with Sex Rites is to provide Atheists with a sophisticated understanding of how the Abrahamic religions developed. She hopes to dispel the Atheist notion that the Bible is Bronze Age mythology. Actually, it is Hellenistic Period mythology, which was significantly different from Bronze Age religious notions. The Bible was not the product of “the people” of the Levant. It was produced by priests with particular political and economic ambitions. Diana’s description of changes in the religious rituals and myths which led up to Christianity is far more damning than the typical Atheist critique. In paritcular, it describes the outrageous suffering of children at the hands of ancient religious leaders. She also highlights positive aspects of ancient cultures, which were the origins of Humanism and secular government. Readers, Atheist and religious, will feel better and more secure in their modern ethics, after exploring the world of their ancient ancestors with Sex Rites.
on Sep. 11, 2010 :
"Sex Rites" is a must read for anyone interested in the origins of Christianity. Diana goes to great lengths to separate fact from myth, using archeological evidence as oppose to theories and conjecture. Included are her personal journeys of discovery while seeking the truth behind the stories, her passion of which appears obvious through her writing. I was personally taken aback while reading, a whole plethora of emotions & ideas swirled through my head, all of which just pushed me to learn more. I am hesitantly ashamed to call her work a revelation, as it appears much of the evidence has been here all along. Her compounding knowledge of the ancient world is staggering; she makes it easy for you to put the missing pieces together. I must warn the reader that some of the information contained may be difficult to hear, but you owe it to yourself to "know the truth from whence you came" so to say. Fabulous read, masterfully written, "Sex Rites" will keep you enthralled till the end.
(reviewed long after purchase)